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CAXTONIANA: 



A SERIES OF ESSAYS 



LIFE, LITERATURE, AND MANNERS. 



SIR E. BULWER LITTON, BART., 

AUTnOE OF 

'the CAXTONS," "a strange STORY," "MY NOVEL," " PAUL CLIFFORD,' 

"what will HE DO WITH IT?" ETC. 



NEW YORK: 

HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS, 
franklin square. 



HEINE ICH ERNST. 



Mt dear Eenst, 

Accept the dedication -of these essays. You will 
recognize, in some of them, subjects ox which i have, not unfee- 
quently, conversed with you and the charming critic who so 
worthily' bears your distinguished name. 

The FRIENDSHIP I HAVE FORMED WITH NATURES SO NOBLE AS HERS 
AND YOUR OWN HAS ADDED A NEW CHARM TO MY LIFE ; AND ALL WHO 
HAVE THE PRIVILEGE TO KNOW YOU WILL COMPREHEND THE AFFECTION- 
ATE PRIDE WITH WHICH I INSCRIBE TO THAT FRIENDSHIP THIS GRATEFUL 
MEMORIAL. 

E. B. L. 

Kneewoeth, October, 1SC3. 



be 



CONTENTS. 



ESSAY PAGE 

I. ON THE INCREASED ATTENTION TO OUTWARD NATURE IN THE 

DECLINE OF LIFE 13 

II. ON THE DIFFERENCES BET^yEEN THE URBAN AND RURAL TEJI- 

PERAMENT 17 

III. ON MONOTONY IN OCCUPATION AS A SOURCE OF HAPPINESS.... 31 

IV. ON THE NORMAL CLAIRVOi'ANCE OF THE IMAGINATION 33 

V. ON INTELLECTUAL CONDUCT AS DISTINCT FROM MORAL : THE 

"SUPERIOR BIAN" 43 

VI. ON SHYNESS 49 

VII. ON THE MANAGEMENT OF MONEY (ADDRESSED CHIEFLY TO 

THE young) CI 

VIII. ON RHYTHM IN PROSE, AS CONDUCIVE TO PRECISION AND 

CLEARNESS 79 

IX. ON STYLE AND DICTION 83 

X. HINTS ON MENTAL CULTURE 103 

XI. ON THE MORAL EFFECT OF WRITERS 115 

XII. ON THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN ACTIVE THOUGHT AND REV- 
ERIE 129 

XIII. ON THE SPIRIT IN WHICH NEW THEORIES SHOULD BE RE- 

CEIVED 137 

XIV. ON ESSAY-WRITING IN GENERAL, AND THESE ESSAYS IN PAR- 

TICULAR 143 

XV. THE SANGUINE TEMPERAMENT ir)7 

XVI. THE ORGAN OF WEIGHT IGl 

XVII. TUB SYMPATHETIC TEMPERAMENT 173 

XVIII. FAITH AND CHARITY ; OR, THE UNION, IN PRACTICAL LIFE, OF 

SINCERITY AND CONCILIATION 187 

XIX. UPON THE EFFICACY OF PRAISE (iN SUPPLEMENT TO THE PRE- 
CEDING essay) 199 

xx. on self-control 209 

xxi. the modern misanthrope 219 

xxii. motive poaver 225 

xxiii. on certain principles op art in works of imagination... 305 

xxiv. posthumous reputation , 331 

xxv. on some authors in whose writings knowledge of the 

world is eminently displayed 357 

xxvi. readers and writers 427 

xxvii. on the spirit op conserv^atism 431 

l'envoi „ 442 



rmr^ AT 



ESSAY I. 

in tljB IDBrliuB nf Xifj. 

One of the most common, yet, when considered, one of the 
most touchmg characteristics of receding life, is in its finer per- 
ception of external nature. You will find men who, in youth 
and middle age, seeming scarcely to notice the most striking 
features of some unfamiliar landscape, become minutely observ- 
ant of the rural scenery around them when the eye has groAvn 
dim and tlie step feeble. They will detect more quickly than 
the painter the delicate variations made by the lapse of a sin- 
gle day in'#ie tints of autumnal foliage; they will distinguish, 
among the reeds by the river-side, murmurs that escape the 
dreamy ear of the poet. 

I was acquainted in my school-boy days with an old man, 
who, after a metropolitan career of noisy and brilliant success, 
had slipped away from the London world as from a vulgar 
mob, and found a Tusculum the reverse of Cicero's, void of 
books and remote from philosophers, in a dull lone house in a 
dull flat country. To me no scenery could be less interesting 
than that amid which I met him in his quiet rambles : a trite 
monotony of level downs — neither wood, nor brook, nor undu- 
lating hill-top that enlivens solitude Avith the infinite play of 
shadows. I Avas then at the age when we all fancy ourselves 
poets, and this man, who had but slight esteem for poets, was 
yet the first in whom I found that close observation of natural 
objects from which poetry takes the same starting-point as sci- 
ence, lie would pause by what seemed to mo a barren heap 



14 INCKEASED ATTENTION TO OUTWAKD 

of stones, to examine the wild flower that had forced its Avay 
through the crevices ; he Avould point with his stick to what 
seemed to me but the empty space, till, looking long and stead- 
ily, I too saw the gossamer sailing slow over the niggard stub- 
Lies ; and his countenance literally brightened with genial in- 
terest whenever we chanced to encounter some adventurous 
ant carrying its burden of a millet-seed over the Alpine fissures 
of a yawning cart-rut. I was bound to respect this man, for I 
was a boy and ambitious, he was old and renowned. He was 
kind to me, for he had known one of my family in a former 
generation, and would suffer me to walk by his side, and en- 
courage me by indulgent, possibly contemptuous silence, to 
pour forth my crude fancies and my vague aspirations — he, who 
could have taught me so much, content to listen ; I, who could 
have taught him nothing, well pleased to talk. And so, one 
day, when he had more than usually provoked my resentment 
by devoting to gossamers and ants the admiring interest I was 
urging him to bestow upon bards and heroes, I exclaimed, Avith 
abrupt candor, " If ever I win a tenth part of your fame, sir, I 
don't think I shall run away from it into the country, esj^ecially 
into a country in which one has nothing to look at except ants 
and gossamers !" 

The old man stopped short, and, leaning on his stick, first 
stared at me, and then, musingly, into sj^ace. Perh%)s my rude 
speech set him thinking. At last he said, very quietly, and as 
if more to himself than me, "I shall soon leave the world: men 
and women I may hope again to see elsewhere, but shall I see 
elsewhere corn-fields and grass, gossamers and ants?" Again 
he paused a moment or two, and then added, "As we lose hold 
of our five senses, do wo wake up a sixth which had before 
been dormant — the sense of Nature ; or have we certain in- 
stincts akin to ISTature which are suppressed and overlaid by 
our reason, and revive only at the age when our reason begins 
to finl us ?" 

I think I quote his Avords with accuracy — certainly their 
sense ; for they puzzled me so much at the time that I often 
thought over them. And many years afterward they came 
back to me in full force when reading the very remarkable 
conjectures upon instincts that are scattered throughout the 
works of Sir Humphry Davy, in which that most imaginative 
of all our men of science suggests, in opposition to the various 



NATUEE IN THE DECLINE OF LIFE. 15 

theories founded upon Locke, that mnn has instincts, of which 
revelation is one, "and that many of those powers Avhich have 
been called instinctive belong to the more refined clothing of 
the spirit."* Be this as it may, I doubt not that each of my 
readers will recall some instance analogous to that which I 
have cited, of the charm which Nature gradually acquires as 
our steps near the grave which is the vanishing point of her 
landscape. Year by year I find that same charm gaining sway 
over myself There was one period of my life when I consid- 
ered every hour spent out of capitals as time wasted — when, 
with exhilarated spirits, I would return from truant loiterings 
under summer trees to the smoke and din of London thorough- 
fares : I loved to hear the ring of my own tread on the hard 
2:)a^'ement. The desire to compete and to combat — the thirst 
for excitements opening one upon the other in the upward 
march of an opposed career — the study of man in his thickest 
haunts — the heart's warm share in the passions which the mind, 
clear from their inebriety, paused to analyze — these gave to 
me, as they give to most active men in the unflagging energies 
of youth, a delight in the vista of gas-lamps, and the hubbub of 
the great mart for the interchange of ideas. But now — Hove 
the country as I did wdien a little child, before I had admitted 
into my heart that ambition which is the first fierce lesson we 
learn at school. Is it, partly, that those trees never remind us 
that we are growing old? Older than we are, their hollow 
stems are covered with rejoicing leaves. The birds build amid 
their bowering branches rather than in the lighter shade of 
the sapling. Nature has no voice that wounds the self-love ; 
her coldest Avind nips no credulous affection. She alone has 
the same fixce in our age as in our youth. The friend with 
whom we once took sweet counsel we have left in the crowd, 
a stranger — perhaps a foe ! ^e woman in whose eyes, some 
twenty years ago, a paradise seemed to oj^en in the midst of 
a fallen world, we passed the other day with a frigid bow. 
She wore rouge and false hair. But those wild flowers under 
the hedgerow — those sparkles in the happy waters — no friend- 
ship has gone from them ! their beauty has no simulated fresh- 
ness — their smile has no fraudulent deceit. 

But there is a deeper truth than all this in the influence which 
Nature gains over us in proportion as life withdraws itself 

* Sir IT. Davy's Works, vol. ix., p. 343, "The Proteiis, or Immortality." 



16 INCREASED ATTENTIOX TO OUTWARD NATURE, ETC. 

from struggle and contention. We are placed on earth for a 
certain period to fulfill, according to our several conditions and 
degrees of mind, those duties by which the earth's history is 
carried on. Desk and warehouse, factory and till, forum and 
senate, schools of science and art, arms and letters — by these 
we beautify and enrich our common habitation ; by these we 
defend, bind together, exalt, the destinies of our common race. 
And during this period the mind is wisely fitted less to con- 
template than to act — less to repose than to toil. The great 
stream of worldly life needs attrition along its banks in order 
to maintain the law that regulates the movement of its waves. 
But when that period of action approaches toward its close, 
the soul, for which is decreed an existence beyond the uses of 
earth — an existence aloof from desk and warehouse, factory 
and till, forum and senate, schools of science and art, arms and 
letters — gradually relaxes its hold of former objects, and, insen- 
sibly perhaps to itself, is attracted nearer toward the divine 
source of all being, in the increasing witchery by which Nature, 
distinct from Man, reminds it of its indeiDcndeuce of the crowd 
from which it begins to re-emerge. 

And, in connection with this spiritual process, it is noticea- 
ble liow intuitively in age we go back with strange fondness 
to all that is fresh in the earliest dawn of youth. If we never 
cared for little children before, we delight to see them roll in 
the grass over which we hobble on crutches. The grandsire 
turns wearily from his middle-aged careworn son to listen with 
infant laugh to the prattle of an infant grandchild. It is the 
old who plant young trees ; it is the old who are most saddened 
by the autumn and feel most dehght in the returning spring. 

And, in the exquisite delicacy with which hints of the invis- 
ible eternal future are conveyed to us, may not that instinctive 
sympathy, with which life in age rounds its completing circle 
toward the point at which it touches the circle of life in child- 
hood, be a benign intimation that 

" Death is naught 
But the soul's birth — and so we should it call?"* 

And may there be no meaning more profound than the obvi- 
ous interpretation in the sacred words, "Make yourselves as 
little children, for of such is the kingdom of heaven?" 

* "On the Origin, Nature, and Immortality of the Soul." — Sir John Da- 
vies. 



ESSAY 11. 

(Dii Ijis DiffBrttitrs lutinnti \\}t d^x\m ul Eurnl 

I HAVE noticed in the previous essay that increased fondness 
for rural nature which is among the ordinary characteristics 
of advancing age, as increase of stiUness is among the ordinary 
attributes of deepening eve. But there are persons who, from 
first to Last, are such special lovers of the country life that they 
never feel thoroughly at home in the stony labyrinth of capi- 
tals; and there are others who, from first to last, would rather 
look out on a back yard in St. James's than on the vales imder 
Fiesole in the hues of a Tuscan autumn, or the waters of Win- 
dermere in the hush of an English June. 

We, Avho are lovers of the country, are not unnaturally dis- 
posed to consider that our preference argues some finer poetry 
of sentiment — some steadier devotion to those ennobling stud- 
ies which sages commend as the fitting occupations of retire- 
ment. But the facts do not justify that self-conceit upon our 
part. It Avas said by a philosopher who was charged with all 
the cares of a Avorld's empire that "there is no such great 
matter in retirement. A man may be Avise and sedate in a 
croAvd as Avell as in a desert, and keep the noise of the Avorld 
from getting Avithin him. In this case, as Plato observes, the 
walls of a town and the inclosure of a sheej^fold may be made 
the same thing."* Certainly poets, and true poets, have lived 
by choice in the dingy streets of great tOAvns. Men of science, 
engaged in reasonings the most abstruse, on subjects the most 
elevating, have usually fixed their dAvelling-place in bustling 
capitals, as if the din of the streets Avithout deepened, by the 
force of contrast, the quiet of those solitary closets Avherein 
they sat analyzing tlie secret heart of tlmt Nature AAdiose ev- 
* Marcus Antoninus: Jeremy Collier's translation. 



18 DIFFERENCES BETWEElSr THE URBAK 

ery-clay outward cli.arras they abandoned to commonplace 
adorers. 

Oil the other hand, men perforce engaged in urban occupa- 
tions, neither bards nor sages, but city clerks and traders, feel 
a yearning of the heart toward a home in the country ; loving 
rural nature with so pure a fervor that, if closer intercourse be 
forbidden, they are contented to go miles every evening to 
kiss the skirt of her robe. Their first object is to live out of 
London, if but in a suburb ; to refresh their eyes Avith the green 
of a field ; to greet the first harbinger of spring in the prim- 
rose venturing forth in their own tiny realm of garden. It is 
for them, as a class, that cities extend beyond their ancient 
bounds ; Avhilo our nobles yet clung to their gloomy halls in 
the Flete, traders sought homesteads remote from their stalls 
and wares in the i^leasiug village of Charing; gradually nobles 
were allured by the gentle example, and proud villas, with 
gardens sloping down to the river-side, chased the woodlark, 
or rather the bittern, away from the Strand.* 

Nothing more stamps the true Cockney than his hate for 
the sound of Bow bells. It is vain that we squircarchs afi'ect 
to sneer at the rural tastes of the cit in his rood of ground by 
the high road to Hampstead : the aquarium stored with min- 
nows and tittlebats ; the rock-work of vitrified clinkers, rich 
with ferns borne from "Wales and the Highlands. His taste 
is not without knoAvlcdge. He may tell us secrets in horticul- 
ture that would startle our Scotch gardener ; and if ever he 
be rich and bold enough to have a farm, the chances are that 
he will teach more than he learns from the knowing ones who 

* "The trade," says a writer in ICGl (Graunt — " Observations on Bills of 
Mortality"), "and very city of London removes westward." I think it is 
perfectly clear, from the various documents extant, that the movement be- 
yond the city into the suburbs commenced with the smaller shopkeepers, and 
not with the nobles : first, because the Eeports recommending improvements 
always mention the ground as preoccupied by small tenements; and, sec- 
ondly, because the royal proclamations, and indeed the enactments of Par- 
liament, in the sixteenth century, against the erection of new buildings v^thin 
London and Westminster, were evidently directed against the middle or lower 
classes, and not against the nobles. In the reign of Elizabeth, the queen's 
M'ish would have sufficed for her nobles; and proclamations can restrain the 
few when they are impotent against the many. But the enactments show, 
still more positively, that the interdict was intended for the peo])le. No 
dwelling-houses were to be subdivided into small tenements ; all sheds and 
shops erected within seven years were to be pulled down. 



AND EUKAL TEMPEEAMEXT. 19 

bet five to one ou his ruin. And when these fameless students 
of Nature ramble forth from the suburb, and get for a Avhile 
to the real heart of the country — when, on rare summer holi-- 
days, they recline in remoto gramine — they need no choice 
Falei-nian, no unguents and brief-lived roses for that interval 
of full beatitude which the poet invites his friend to snatch 
from reprieving fates. Their delight proves the truth of my 
favorite aphorism — "that our happiest moments are those of 
which the memories are the most innocent." 

It is not only the middle class of citizen m which the love 
of rural life is strong. Mechanics and artisans, crowded and 
pent m towns, have the same luxuriant joy in the sights and 
sounds of the country. 

Turn your horse's head some summer holiday toward the 
bosky dells of Epping Forest. Suddenly you will come upon 
a spot where the genius of our old English poets seems to 
linger — a fragment of the old "good greenwood," in which 
" birds are about and singing." 

Scattered amid those venerable trees, stunted as trees are on 
old forest-ground, but with gnarled fantastic trunks, and open- 
ing here and there into glades that might ravish a painter's 
eye, are seen, no longer, indeed, dainty dame and highborn 
cavalier, but weavers from Spitalfields — the carts and Avains 
that brought them drawn x\^ by the roadside. Here a family 
group gathered round the cups " that cheer but not inebriate ;" 
there, children, whom it gladdens the heart to see at play, for 
the children of weavers have but a short interval of play be- 
tween the cradle and the loom ; yonder, heeding you not as 
you ride slowly by, two young sweethearts, talking, perhaps, 
of some distant time when they may see green fields, even on 
Avork-days, from the casements, not of a London attic, but of 
some thatched cottage, with eaves in which the SAvalloAV builds 
secure ; farther on, some studious lad, lonely as Jacques, 

" Under the shade of melaacholy boughs." 

He has brought a book with him, doubtless a poem or work 
of fiction, that suits the landscape round, and opens a door in 
the grassy knolls, like that which, in Scottish legend, admitted 
the child of earth into the halls of fairy-land ; yet ever and 
anon the reader lifts his eyes from the page, and drinks in, 
with a lengthened gaze, the balm of the blue sky, the freshness 
of the sylvan leaves. 



20 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE UKBAN 

The mechanics of Manchester are, or were some years ago, 
notable entomologists. They might be seen on smnmer even^ 
ings issuing forth with their butterfly-nets from smoky lanes, 
allured by gossamer wings over level swards dominated by 
tall factory-chimneys, as near to their homes and as far from 
their thoughts as the battle-field of Thermopylae was from the 
dwellers in Tempe. 

Doubtless, in the pursuit which gives zest and object to these 
rambles, tliey obey that instinct of the chase which is one of 
the primitive ties between man and nature. The passion for 
field-sports, Avhich is so common among the higher classes in 
England, lies, I think, deep amid finer and gentler propensities 
than those which find pleasure in destroying. I put aside the 
more factitious adjuncts to the charm of the hunting-field : the 
gossip of the meet, the emulation of the run, the stimulants to 
the love of applause in the hot competition of rival courage 
and address. Apart from these exhilarants — which have noth- 
ing to do with the love of Nature; by which men might be 
equally stirred in a tennis-court, or, with higher mental exer- 
tion, on the floor of the House of Commons — there is a delight 
in this frank and hearty commune with rural Nature herself 
which unconsciously warms the hunter's heart, and constitutes 
the most genial portion of his wild enjoyment. His jDursuit 
carried on through the season in which Nature has the least 
beauty for those who, like Horace, regard winter as deformed, 
he welcomes wdth cjuickening pulse the aspects that sadden 
the lovers of flowers and sunshine. That slushing thaw, that 
melancholy drizzle, through which I, no follower of Nimrod, 
gaze listless and dejected from misty Avindows on skeleton 
trees and desolated j^^arterres, raise the spirits and gladden the 
sense of the hunter. He has the privilege of finding beauties 
in the most sullen expression which the countenance of Nature 
can assume ; and he is right, and he is rewarded. How cheer- 
ily the tongue of the hounds rings through those drii^ping 
covers ! With what a burst of life that copse of evergreens 
comes out from the nude hedgerows at the wind of the hazy 
lane ! How playfully that noisy brook, through which the 
rider will splash his jocund way, re-escapes in its glee from 
tlie ice whose bonds it has broken ! And when all is over, 
and the hixnter rides homeward, perhaps alone, the westering 
sun breaks out from the clouds just to bid him good-night and 



AND EUKAL TEMPEKAMENT. 21 

disappear; or over his own roof-tops gleams the moon or the 
wintry star, on which he gazes with a dim, half-conscious 

"Devotion to something afar 
From the sj^here of our sorrow." 

He has been that day with Nature, and the exhilaration of his 
exercise has lifted up his spirits to enjoy her companionship ; 
imvardly, perhaps mechanically, as we enjoy that of any famil- 
iar friend, without pausing to expatiate on the charms of friend- 
ship. 

But here let the hunter speak for himself, and in words that 
eloquently approves my attempt to analyze his sensations. " It 
is by the real sportsman — by the true admirer of nature and 
nature's God — by the man fraught with a lively sense of the 
boon of existence, of thankfulness for the health and happiness 
he is permitted to enjoy — by the man at peace with himself, 
and in charity with all men, that the exhilarating sensations 
of a hunting morning will be felt and appreciated.'"'"" The 
piety which, pervades this extract is in harmony Avith the spirit 
in which the ancients appear to have regarded the pleasures 
of the chase. Arrian opens his Cynegiticus, or " Treatise on 
Coursing," by reminding ns how carefully "Xenophon has 
commemorated the advantages that accrue to mankind from 
hunting, and the regard of the gods for those instructed in it 
by Chiron." And indeed Xenophon was scrupulously rigid 
in preserving that mythical alliance between religion and hunt- 
ing, forbidding the sportsman even to slip a hound until he has 
vowed a due share of the game to Apollo and Diana. So that 
even in the heathen times the chase brought man too closely 
face to face with ISTature not to suggest to him a recognition 
of that Celestial Soul which lights the smile upon her lipsf 
Certainly in the chase itself all my sympathies are on the side 
of the fox ; perhaps from a foolish inclination, which has done 
me little good in the world, toward the weaker party ; leading 
me imprudently to favor those whom there is a strong determ- 
ination to run down. But if all individuals are to give way 
to the greatest happiness of the greatest number, we must set 
off against the painful fate of the fox the pleasurable sensation 
in the breasts of numbers, whicli his fate has the honorable 
privilege to excite, and be contented In sacrifice his personal 
* "The Noble Science," by Frederick Delnie Eadclili'c, Etq. 



2 2 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE UKEAN 

Avelfare, as we sacrifice some " vested interest," to that pitiless 
Moloch, "the Public Advantage." 

For myself, though no participator in the joys of more vehe- 
ment sport, I have a pleasure that I can not reconcile to my 
abstract notions of the tenderness due to dumb creatures, in 
the tranquil cruelty of angling. I can only palliate the wanton 
destructiveness of my amusement by trying to assure myself 
that my pleasure does not spring from the success of the 
treachery I practice toAvard a poor little fish, but rather from 
that innocent revelry in the luxuriance of summer life which 
only anglers enjoy to the utmost. When I have cast my per- 
fidious line over the Avaves of a lake, or into the dips and hol- 
lows of a babbling trout-stream, Avith all its romantic curva- 
tures into creek and cove, a thousand images, born from poetic 
sentiment, and giA'ing birth in turn to moralizing thought, 
present themselves to my noonday reverie ; images Avhich 
would never have taken shape had I been pacing to and fro 
the gravel-Avalks of my garden. Above all, Nature herself, in 
that spiritual beauty Avhich keeps opening out from the green 
deeps as our eye rests on the surface, just as out from some 
grand author meaning on meaning, secret on secret, Avill open 
as we continue to read and re-read the page — Nature herself 
fascinates and appeals to me Avhen I stand on the grassy banks, 
and see earth and sky blending light and shadoAV in the glass 
of mysterious waters. 

This miserable pastime of angling — this base seduction of a 
credulous felloAV-creature with a fraudulent bait — certainly it 
is not this Avhich charms me hour after hour to solitary moss- 
groAvn banks. The pastime is but my excuse for listening so 
patiently 

"From morn till noon, from noon till dewy eve," 

to the vague Avhisperings of the Universal Mother. Why do 
I need that idle rod to draAV me forth to the water-side — Avhy, 
if no snare of mine near yon Avater-lily menaced the scaly flocks 
of Proteus — Avhy could I not recline as long and as contented- 
ly under this bowery elm-tree, Avatching the reeds quiver whei-e 
the pike stirs, or noting the Avistful eyes of the grasshopper as 
he halts on my lap, wondering Avhether I be friend or foe ? I 
knoAV not Avhy. Ask the guimer Avhether he would Avalk thirty 
miles a day over stubble and turnips if he had a staff in his 
hand instead of his IVIantoii. 



AND RUKAL TEMPEEAMEKT, 23 

Man is so formed for design by the Great Designer, tliat in 
his veriest amusement he still iavoluntarily seeks an object. 
He needs a something definite — a something that pretends to 
be i^ractical — in order to rivet his attention long to external 
Nature, however sensitive he may be to her charms. We must 
have our chase or our angling, our butterfly-net or our geo- 
logical hammer, or wc must be botanists or florists, naturalists, 
husbandmen, or artists. If we can make to ourselves no occu- 
pation out of the many that rural nature affords us, we must 
be contented, like the Spitalfields weaver, to visit her on rare 
holidays. Our week-day world is not in her calm retreats. 

He who fondly prefers the country to the town, who feels 
that the best part of him can never develop into bloom and 
fruit in the atmosphere of capitals, is not, as I commenced by 
owning, wiser or better, more imaginative or more thoughtful, 
than tie who by choice fixes his home in the busiest haunts of 
men. But he is jDrobably better and possibly wiser than the 
average number of those wdio can not live out of towns. He 
must possess, if Kant's theory of the -^llsthetic be as true as it 
is lovely, the inborn moral sentiment which allies itself to the 
immediate, unreasoning, unambitious sympathy with ISTature. 
" He," says the grand philosopher, " who contemplates soli- 
tarily (withou.t purpose or object of communicating to others 
what it pleases himself to observe) the beauty of a wild flow' er, 
a bird, an insect — to admire and to love it — who would regret 
not to find that thing in Nature, independently of all advantage 
he may draw from it — nay, even if it occasions to him some 
loss or harm — it is he who attaches to Nature an interest im- 
mediate and intellectual That advantage which Natural 

beauty has over Artistic beauty in alone thus exciting an im- 
mediate interest, accords with the purified and solid intelli- 
gence of all who have cultivated their moral sentiment. When 
a man, having sufticient taste to appreciate the productions of 
the Fine Arts with exactitude and delicate perception, quits 
■without regret the chamber in which glitter those beauties 
that satisfy vanity and the craving for social distractions, and 
seeks the beauty of Nature, to find therein a delight that sus- 
tains his mind in the direction by which we can never attain 
the final goal — in that man we suppose a certain beauteous- 
ness of soul Avhich we do not attriUuto to a connoisseur, be- 
cause the last finds an interest in the objects of Art." 



24 DIFFEKENCES BETAVEEN THE UKBAN 

Leaving -without comment these passages, which do but 
loosely and inadequately paraphi*ase the original (for it would 
almost require a Plato to translate, and, alas ! at times, an 
Aristotle to comprehend, a Kant), I may suggest some less re- 
lining arguments in favor of the proposition that he who pre- 
fers the country is perhaps Letter than the average of those 
who prefer the town. It is clear that he must have a large 
share of that negative goodness wdiich consists in the absence 
of evil. He can not well be a profligate sensualist, nor an am- 
bitious schemer, nor dei3endent for enjoyment on the gratifica- 
tion of petty vanities. His sources of pleasure will, at least, 
be generally pure. He will have that independence of spirit 
which can stand firm Avithout leaning on other men's minds : 
to use the fine expression of Locke, "he will have raised him-, 
self above the alms-basket, and is not content to live lazily on 
scraps of begged opinion."* His conscience needs no turbu- 
lent excitements to chase away a haunting remembrance. I 
speak of those who genuinely and truly love the country by 
natural temperament, not of those who take to it without love, 
as outlaws Avho fly into a temple, not to Avorship at its altar, 
but to lie hid within its sanctuary. Birds sing in vain to the 
ear, floAvers bloom in vain to the eye, of mortified vanity and 
galled ambition. He Avho Avould knoAV repose in retirement 
must carry into retirement his destiny, integral and serene, as 
the CiBsars transported the statue of Fortune into the cham- 
ber they chose for their sleep. The jDicture of the first Lord 
LLolland gnaAving out his fierce heart on the doAvns of Kings- 
gate is very diflerent from that of a gentler statesman, Pliny, 
hailing his reprieve from pomp and poAver, and exclaiming, in 
the scholar's true enthusiasm, " O mare, O littus, verum secre- 
tumque MovqsIov, quam multa dictatis, quam raulta iuA^enitis !" 

Whatever the varying predilections of groAvn-up men for 
toAvu or country, one fact needs no proving ; all children jyre- 
fer the country. Ask any school-boy up to the age of fifteen 
Avhere he would spend his holidays. Not one in five hundred 
Avill say, " In the streets of London," if you give him the op- 
tion of green fields and running Avaters. It is, then, a fair pre- 
sumption that there must be something of the child still in the 
character of the men or the Avomen Avhom the country charms 
in maturer as in dawning life. 

* Introduction to "Essay on the Human Understanding." 



AND KUKA.L TEMPERAMENT. 25 

Among women especially, I own I think better of those who 
prefer fields to streets. They have not in capitals the granc| 
occupations of laborious men — they have no bar and no senate. 
At the best, if more than usually cultured and intelligent, they 
can but interchange such small coins of thought and learning 
as are spent in talk. But if there be one thing in which intel- 
lect can appear to the intellectual either flippant or common- 
place, it is the talk of wits in the drawing-rooms of capitals. 
The worst part of an eminent man's conversation is, nine times 
out often, to be found in that part which he means to be clev- 
er. Even in the talk of Dr. Johnson, as recorded by Boswell, 
the finest things are those which he said to Boswell when no- 
body was by, and which he could just as well have said in the 
Hebrides. 

The most delicate beauty in the mind of women is, and ever 
must be, an independence of artificial stimulants for content. 
It is not so with men. The links that bind men to capitals 
belong to the golden chain of civilization — the chain which 
fastens all our destinies to the throne of Jove. And hence the 
larger proportion of men in whom genius is pre-eminent have 
preferred to live in cities, though some of them have bequeath- 
ed to us the loveliest pictures of the rural scenes in which they 
declined to dwell. Certainly nothing in Milton or in Shak- 
speare more haunts our memory than the passages in which 
they seem to luxuriate in rural life, as Arcadians in the Golden 
Age. What voluptuous revelry among green leaves in that 
half-pastoral comedy which has its scene in the Forest of Ar- 
den ! In the " Midsummer Night's Dream," how Fancy seems 
to bury herself, as it were, in the lap of Nature, as the fairies 
bury themselves in the bells of flowers! Think of Milton, the 
"Lycidas, the "Comus," "L' Allegro," "II Penseroso," the gar- 
den-land of " Paradise Lost !" Yet Milton seems to have wil- 
lingly enough spent nearly all his life in "troublous cities pent." 
Even in his brief holiday abroad it is among capitals that he 
loves to linger. We do not find him, like the poet who has 
had the widest and loudest fame of our own age, rejoice 

"To sit alone, to muse o'er flood and fell, 
To slowly trace the forest's fading green, 
"Where things that own not man's dominion dwell, 
And mortal foot has ne'er or rarely been." 

Shakspeare, so far as we know of his life, was from early youth 

B 



26 DIFFEKENCES BETWEEN THE TJEBAN 

a denizen of London till rich enough to retire ; and then he 
retired, not into the solitudes of the country, but into a social 
dwelling in the midst of a town, in which, no doubt, he found, 
and was pleased to find, associates of younger days, with whom 
he could talk frankly, as great men rarely talk save to those 
with whom they have played in boyhood. 

Most of the more famous modern writers on the Continent 
have by choice lived in cities, especially the German and the 
French. And in this they are distinguished from the ancient 
authors, at least the Latin. Horace had his Sabine farm in the 
Vale of Ustica ; the love of scenery yet more attractive made 
him take also his cottage amid the orchards and " mobile riv- 
ulets" of Tivoli. He sighed yet for a third country home — a 
winter retreat in the mild climate of Sorrento. Tibullus, the 
amorous and the beautiful, passed the larger part of his short 
life on his estate in the lovely country between Tivoli and Prre- 
neste. Ovid, specially the man of gayety and fashion, lived, it 
is true, chiefly at Rome (before his mysterious exile), but he 
had a garden of his own apart from his house, between the 
Flaminian and Clodian ways, to which he constantly i-esorted, 
as well as his country-seat, the Pelignan farm. 

Virgil's house at Rome, like that of Propertius, was fural- 
ized, as it were, by its neighborhood to the vast gardens of 
Maecenas. His favorite residence, however, was at Naples, not 
actually in the town, if Neapolitan traditions be worthy of 
credit, but on the outskirts, near his legendary tomb on Posi- 
lippo, and facing the bay which sunset colors with such glori- 
ous hues. 

Even Terence, whose vocation of comic writer might be sup- 
posed to fix him amid the most populous haunts of men, may 
be fairly presumed, when not in the villas of his patrons, to 
have spent his time chiefly on his own small estate by the Ap- 
pian Road, till he vanished into Greece, whence he never re- 
turned ; dying, according to one report — for there are many 
reports as to the mode and place of his death — amid the mount- 
ain seclusions of Arcady. Every scholar, almost every school- 
boy, has got by heart the songs in which Catullus vents his rap- 
ture on regaining his home on the Sirmian Peninsula. And 
many a man who has never read Catullus has uttered the same 
cry of joy in greeting his rural threshold after strange wander- 
ings or lengthened absence. For " what more blessed than 



AND KUBAL TEMPERAMENT. 27 

to ungird us of our caves — when the mind lays down its far- 
del, and we come from the toil afar to our own hearth, and re- 
pose on the longed-for bed ?" Who does not then call on the 
dear roof to welcome him as if it were a living thing, and echo 
the sense of that wondrous line — 

"Laugh, every dimple in tlie cheek of home!"* 

Cicero's love of the country needs no proof. With his busy 
life we still associate his quiet Tusculum. Pliny the Younger 
gives us a description, chiefly known to architectural critics, 
whom it has sadly ^^.uzzled, of a rich public man's retreat from 
the smoke of Rome, only seventeen miles from the city, " so 
that" (writes Pliny to his friend), " after we have finished the 
business of the day, we can go thither from town at sunset ;" 
a journey which he calls extremely short when performed on 
horseback (more tedious in a carriage, because the roads were 
sandy). Certainly a man must have loved the country well to 
ride seventeen miles to a house in it after the business of the 
day. Few English statesmen or lawyers, I suspect, would be 
equally alert in their sacrifice to the rural deities. But how 
lovingly Pliny describes the house, with apartments so built as 
to command the finest prospects: the terrace before the gal- 
lery all perfumed with violets ; the gallery itself so placed that 
the shadow of the building is thrown on the terrace in the 
forenoon; and at the end of the gallery "the little garden 
apartment," which he calls his own — his sweetheart — looking 
on one side to the terrace, on the other to the sea ; and then 
his own bedchamber carefully constructed for the exclusion of 
noise. No voice of babbling servants, no murmurs from boom- 
ing seas, reach the room in which, as he tells us elsewhere, he 
not only sleeps, but muses. 

" There," he exclaims, in that charming letterf wherein he 
compares that petty gossip of the town, which seems, while 
you are in town, to be so sensible and rational, but of which 
you say when you get into the country, " Plow many days 
have I wasted on trifles!" — "there," he exclaims, " there, at 
my Laurentium, I hear nothing that I repent to have heard, 

* "Eidete quidquid est Domi cachinnorum." 

The translation of the line in the text is by Leigh Hunt. I am not quite 
satisiied with the version, but I have not met with, and certainly I can not 
suggest, a better one. t Book i., Epist. ix., to Minutius Fundinus. 



28 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE URBAN 

say nothing that I repent to have said ; no hopes dehide, and 
no fears molest me. Welcome, thou life of integrity and vir- 
tue ! dulce otium^ honestumque^ ae poena oinni negotio pul- 
chrius /" 

We have no absolute warrant for fixing the voluntary choice 
of the great poets of Athens either in town or country. But 
we know, from ample authority, that the possession of a rural 
home was the passionate craving of an Athenian. Up to the 
date of the Peloponnesian Wai', most of the Athenian citizens 
resided habitually with their families in the coiintry. And 
when compelled, at the outbreak of that war, to come within 
the blind walls of the city, each man grieved, as if in leaving 
his rural home he was leaving his own civil polity, yea, his own 
proper city, behind him.* 

The burly Demos itself is represented by Aristophanes much 
as our old-fashioned caricatures rejDresented John Bull — a 
shrewd and grumbling farmer thinking how votes might affect 
his crops. It may not, therefore, be presumptuous to suppose 
that Sophocles had a favorite retreat on the chalky soil of his 
native Colonus, and listened, many a returning spring, to " the 
liightingales that tenanted the dark ivy, and greeted the nar- 
cissus, ancient coronal of mighty goddesses, as it burst into 
bloom under the dews of heaven."f Or that the wronged and 
melancholy Euripides might have gathered his consoling books 
(Athenfeus tells us that he was an ardent book-collector) into 
some suburban dwelling-place by the banks of that Cephisus, 
of which, in the headlong rush of his darkest tragedy, he pauses 
to chant the tempering breeze and the fragrant rose.J 

The town temperament is in general anxious, aspiring, com- 
bative ; the rural temperament quiet, unambitious, peaceful. 

But the town temperament has this advantage over the ru- 
ral — a man may by choice fix his home in cities, yet have the 
most lively enjoyment of the country when he visits it for rec- 
reation ; while the man who, by choice, settles habitually in 
the country, there deposits his household gods, and there 
moulds his habits of thought to suit the life he has selected, 
usually feels an actual distress, an embarrassment, a pain, when, 
from time to time, he drops, a forlorn stranger, on the London 
pavement. He can not readily brace his mind to the quick 

* Thucyd., lib. i., c. xvi. See Bloomfield's note on the passage referred to. 
t CEdip. Col., from line 668. % " Medea," 842. : 



AND RURAL TEMPERAMENT. 29 

exei'tions foi* small objects that compose the activity of the 
Londoner. He has no interest iu the gossip ahout persons he 
does not know; the very weather does not aifect him as it 
does the man who has no crops to care for. When the Lon- 
doner says, " What a fine day !" he shakes his head dolefully, 
and mutters, " Sadly in want of rain." 

The London sparrows, no doubt, if you took them into the 
forest glens of Hampshire, would enjoy the change very much ; 
but drop the thrush and linnet of Hampshire into St. James's 
Square, and they would feel very uneasy at the prospect before 
them. You might fill all the balconies round with prettier 
plants than thrush and linnet ever saw in the New Forest, 
but they would not be thrush and linnet if they built their 
nest in such coverts. 



ESSAY III. 
(Dii ®niintnm| in (Drtnptinu us a §mit nf 

Foe things to be distinctly remembered, it is not enough 
that they should delight the senses and captivate the fancy. 
They must have a certain measured duration in harmony with 
the previous impressions on the mind. Thus the airs of the 
^ohan harp, ravishing though they are, can not be committed 
to memory, because no time is observed in their music. 

"When we look back over a lengthened series of years, we 
seldom find that remembrance clings fondly to moments in 
which the mind has been the most agitated, the passions most 
active, but rather to the intervals in which hour stole on hour 
with the same quiet tread. The transitory fever of the senses 
it is only a diseased imagination that ponders over and recalls ; 
the triumphs which flatter our self-esteem look pale and obso- 
lete from the distance of years, as arches of lath and plaster, 
thrown up in haste for the march of a conqueror, seem frail 
and tawdry when we see them, in after time, spanning the 
solid thoroughfares with columns already mouldering, and 
stripped of the banners and the garlands that had clad them 
in the bravery of an hour. 

Howsoever varied the courses of our life, whatsoever the 
phases of pleasure and ambition through which it has swept 
along, still, when in memory we would revive the times that 
were comparatively the happiest, those times will be found to 
have been the calmest. 

As the body for health needs regularity in habits, and will 
even reconcile itself to habits not in themselves best fitted for 
longevity, with less injury to the system than might result from 
abrupt changes to the training by which athletes attain their 
vigor, so the mind for health needs a certain clockwork of 
routine ; we like to look forward with a tranquil sentiment of 



32 MONOTONY IN OCCUPATION, ETC. 

security; when we pause from the occupation of to-day, which 
custom has made dear to us, there is a charm in the mechanical 
confidence with which we think that the same occupation will 
be renewed at the same hour to-morrow. And thus monotony 
itself is a cause and element of happiness which, amid the shift- 
ing tumults of the world, we are apt to ignore. Plutarch, in- 
deed, says truly* that " the shoe takes the form of the foot, 
not the foot the form of the shoe," meaning thereby that 
"man's life is moulded by the disposition of his soul." But 
new shoes chafe the foot, new customs the soul. The stoutest 
pedestrian would flag on a long walk if he put on new shoes 
at every second mile. 

It is with a sentiment of misplaced pity, perhaps of contempt 
still more irrational, that the busy man, whose existence is loud 
and noisy, views another who seems to him less to live than to 
vegetate. The traveler, whirled from capital to capital, stops 
for a night's lodging at some convent rising lone amid unfi-e- 
quented hills. He witnesses the discipline of the monastic life 
drilled into unvarying forms, day and year jDortioned out, ac- 
cording to inch scale, by the chimes of the undeviating bell. 
He re-enters his carriage with a sense of relief; how dreary 
must be the existence he leaves behind! Why dreary? Be- 
cause so monotonous. Shallow reasoner! it is the monotony 
that has reconciled the monk to his cell. Even prisoners, after 
long years, have grown attached to the sameness of their pris- 
on, and have shrunk back from the novelty of freedom when 
turned loose upon the woi'ld. Not that these illustrations con- 
stitute a plea for monastery or prison ; they but serve to show 
that monotony, even under circumstances least favorable to 
the usual elements of happiness, becomes a happiness in itself, 
growing, as it were, unseen, out of the undisturbed certainty 
of peculiar customs. As the pleasure the ear finds in rhyme 
is said to arise from its recurrence at measured periods — from 
the gratified expectation that at certain intervals certain efiects 
will be repeated — so it is in life: the recurrence of things same 
or similar, the content in the fulfillment of expectations so fa- 
miliar and so gentle that we are scarcely conscious that they 
were formed, have a harmony and a charm, and, where life is 
enriched by no loftier genius, often make the only difference 
between its poetry and its prose. 

* Plutarch, "On the Tranquillity of the Soul." 



ESSAY IV. 
(!Dii tjir Snrmnl ClaitnnpErB nf tjiJ Smnginatinn. 

Most men are skeptical as to the wonders recorded of mes- 
meric clairvoyance. " I concede," says the cautious physiolo- 
gist, " that you may produce a kind of catalepsy upon a highly 
nervous subject; that in that state of quasi-catalepsy there 
may pass through the brain a dream, which the dreamer is able 
to repeat, and which, in repeating, he may color or exaggerate 
according to an unconscious sympathy (called rapport by the 
mesmerists) with the will of the person who has cast him into 
slee^), or according to a bias of his own mind, of which at the 
moment he may not be aware. But to conceive that a person 
in this abnormal state can penetrate into the most secret 
thoughts of another — traverse, in sj)irit, the region of time and 
space — describe to me in London what is being done by my 
son in Bombay — 'see,' says Sir Henry Holland, 'through other 
organs than the eyes,' and be wise through other faculties than 
the reason, is to contradict all we know of the organization of 
man, and of the agencies established by Nature." 

But it seems to me that there is a clairvoyance much more 
marvelous than that which the followers of Puysegur* attrib- 
ute to the mesmeric trance, but which, nevertheless, no physi- 
ologist ever presumes to gainsay. For the most ardent be- 
liever in the gift of mesmeric clairvoyance, if his belief be 

* The theory of Clairvoj'anoc does not originate in Mesmer, but in the ex- 
periments of his disciple, Count Puysegur. I am not sure that Mesmer ever 
acknowledged the existence of clairvoyance to the extent claimed for its 
manifestations by Puysegur. He certainly did not attach the same import- 
ance to its phenomena. Though I have made use of tlie phrase Mesmeric 
clairvoyance, it is not therefore strictly correct. It ought rather to be Pny- 
segunan clairvoyance. But I agree with Malebranche, that where we desire 
to be understood we should use words that correspond with previous associa- 
tions. And especially in essays of so familiar a character as these, it would 
be mere pedantry to coin new words for the expression of established ideas. 

B 2 



34 THE NOEMAL CLAIRVOYANCE 

grounded upon actual experience, will be the first to admit 
that the powers it bestows are extremely capricious and un- 
certain ; that although a somnambulist tells you accurately to- 
day the cause of an intricate disease or the movements of your 
son in Bombay, he may not be able to-raorrow to detect a cold 
in your head, or tell you what is done by your next-door neigh- 
bor. So uncertain, indeed, so unreliable, are the higher phe- 
nomena ascribed to mesmeric clairvoyance, that experiments 
of such phenomena almost invariably fail when subjected to 
those tests which the incredulous not unreasonably demand. 
And even when fostered by the submissive faith of witnesses 
the most reverential, and developed by rapport the most sym- 
pathetic, the experienced mesraerizer is aware that he must be 
exceedingly cautious how he attemj^t to extract any j^ractical 
uses from the advice or predictions dictated by this mystical 
second-sight ; the more wonderful its occasional accuracy, the 
more he is on his guard against the grave dangers into Avhich 
he would be decoyed did he believe that such accuracy could 
be faithfully reproduced at will, and so led on to exchange for 
irresponsible oracles the conclusions to be drawn from his own 
sober sense. 

It is recorded, upon evidence so respectable that I will as- 
sume it to be sufiicient, that a clairvoyant has tracked to de- 
tection a murder which had bafiled the keenest research of the 
police ; that another clairvoyant, a day before the Derby, mi- 
nutely described the incidents of the race, and truthfully pre- 
dicted the winner, the colors of the rider, the name of the 
horse. But sure I am that no mesmerizer who has had prac- 
tical experience of the most remarkable somnambules in Eu- 
rope would venture to risk his own repute in denouncing as 
criminals those whom the same clairvoyant who had once 
tracked a murder might circumstantially indicate and unhesita- 
tingly accuse when next applied to in aid of justice, or would 
hazard his own money on the horse which the same clairvoy- 
ant, whose vaticinations on the Derby were once so mysteri- 
ously truthful, might, when again invoked, single out as the 
winner. 

No man has sacrificed more for the cause of mesmerism than 
Dr. Elliotson, and perhaps no man would more earnestly Avarn 
a neophyte — startled by his first glimpse of phenomena, which, 
developed to the utmost by the priesthood of Delphi, once 



OF THE IMAGINATION". 35 

awed to subjection the luminous intellect of Greece — not to 
accept the lucky guesses of the Pythian for the infallible re- 
sponse of Apollo. 

It is not only, then, the extreme rarity of mesmeric clairvoy- 
ance approaching in any degree to that finer vision, of which 
the advocates for its existence contend as a fact not the less 
certain because it is admitted to be rare, but it is far more the 
fickleness and uncertainty to which that vision itself is sub- 
jected, even in the most gifted clairvoyant Avhom the most ac- 
complished mesmerizer can discover, which has made the phe- 
nomena of clairvoyance available to no definite purposes of 
knowledge. 

How little has mesmeric clairvoyance realized the hopes that 
were based on the early experiments of Puysegur ! With all 
its assumptions of intelligence more than mortal, it has not 
solved one doubtful problem in science. It professes to range 
creation on the wings of a spirit, but it can no more explain to 
us what is " spirit" than it can tell us what is heat or electric- 
ity. It assumes to diagnosticate in cases that have bafiled the 
Fergusons and Brodies — it can not tell us the cause of an epi- 
demic. It has a cure for all diseases — it has not added to the 
pharmacopoeia a single new remedy. It can read the thoughts 
hoarded close in your heart, the letter buttoned-up in your 
pocket ; and when it has done so, cui bono ! you start, you 
are astonished, you cry " Miraculoxis !" but the miracle makes 
you no wiser than if you had seen the trick of a conjuror. 

There is another specialty in the restricted domain of claii'- 
voyance : it is inferior to all systematic art and science in this 
— it does not improve by practice. A clairvoyant may exer- 
cise his gifts every day in the year for twenty years, and is no 
better at the end of the twentieth year than he Avas at the 
commencement of the first. Nay, on the contrary, many con- 
noisseurs in mesmerism prefer as the most truthful the youn- 
gest and rawest Pythoness they can obtain, and are inclined to 
view with distrust all sibyls in lengthened professional prac- 
tice. But when we deny, as a thing too preternatural, too 
transcendent for human attainment, this very limited and very 
precarious, unimprovable, unprofitable specialty of certain mor- 
bid constitutions, does it never strike us that there is something 
much more marvelous in that normal clairvoyance which im- 
agination bestows upon healthful brains ? 



36 THE NORMAL CLAIRVOYANCE 

It is no rare phenomenon for a poet " to see through other 
organs than his eyes ;" to desci'ibe with an accuracy that as- 
tounds a native the lands which he has never beheld ; it is no 
rare phenomenon for historian or dramatist to read the most 
secret thoughts in the hearts of men who lived a thousand 
years ago ! And their clairvoyance immeasurably exceeds, in 
the marvel of its second-sight, the clairvoyance ascribed to the 
most eminent somnambule, inasmuch as it is not precarious 
and fluctuating — a glimpse into light " above the visible diur- 
nal sphere" swallowed up in Cimmerian darkness, but calm 
and habitual, improved by increasing practice, courting tests 
and giving them; the larger and more mingled the crowd of 
spectators, the more surely does their clairvoyance display its 
jDOwers and confound the skeptic by its proofs. And whereas 
the clairvoyance of the somnambule has solved no riddle in 
nature, added no invention to art, the clairvoyance of wakeful 
intellect has originated all the manifold knowledge we now 
possess — predicted each step of our progress — divined every 
obstacle that encumbered the way — lit beacons that never fade 
in the wastes of the past — taken into its chart the headlands 
that loom through the future. Every art, every craft that 
gives bread to the millions, came originally forth from some 
brain that saw it first in the typical image. Before the very 
paper I write on could be fashioned from rags, some musing 
inventor must have seen in his lucid clairvoyance the idea of 
a thing that was not yet existent. It is obviously undeniable 
that every invention added to our uses must have been invent- 
ed before it was seen — that is, its image must have appeared 
to the inventor "through some other organ than his eyes." 

It is amusing to read the ingenious hypotheses framed by 
critics who were not themselves poets, in order to trace in 
Shakspeare's writings the footprints of his bodily life. I have 
seen it inferred as proof positive, from the description of the 
samphire -gatherer, that Shakspeare must have stood on the 
cliffs of Dover. I have followed the inductions of an argument 
intended to show, from the fidelity of his coloi'ings of Italian 
scenei'y, that Shakspeare must have traveled into Italy. His 
use of legal technicalities has been wted as a satisfactory evi- 
dence that he had been an attorney's clerk; his nice perception 
of morbid anatomy has enrolled him among the sons of ^scu- 
lapius as a medical student ; and from his genei-al tendency to 



OF THE IMAGINATIO^r. 37 

philosophical speculation, it has been seriously maintained that 
Shakspeave was not Shakspeare at all. So fine a philosopher 
could not have been a vagabond stage-player ; he must have 
been the prince of professed philosoj^hers — the Lord Chancel- 
lor of Nature — Bacon himself, and no other! But does it not 
occur to such discriminating observers that Shakspeare's knowl- 
edge is no less accurate when applied to forms of life and pe- 
riods of the world into which his personal experience could 
not possibly have given him an insight, than it was Avhen ap- 
plied to the description of Dover Cliff, or couched in a meta- 
phor borrowed from the law courts ? Possibly he might have 
seen with his own bodily eyes the samphire-gatherer hanging 
between earth and sky ; but with his own bodily eyes had he 
seen Brutus in his tent on the fatal eve of Philippi? Possibly 
he might have scrawled out a deed of conveyance to John Doe ; 
but had he any hand in Ciiesar's Avill, or was he consulted by 
Mark Antony as to the forensic use to Avhich that will could 
be applied in obtaining from a Roman jury a verdict against 
the liberties of Rome ? To account for Shakspeare's lucidity 
in things done on earth before Dover Cliff had been seen by 
the eai'liest Saxon immigrant, there is but one supposition 
agreeable to the theory that Shakspeare must have seen Dover 
Cliff with his own bodily eyes because he describes it so Avell : 
Shakspeare must have been, not Lord Bacon, but Pythagoras, 
who had lived as Euphorbus in the times of the Trojan war, 
and who, under some name or other (why not in that of Shak- 
speare?), might therefore have been living in the reign of Eliz- 
abeth, linking in one individual memory the annals of perished 
states and extinguished races. 

But then, it may be said, " Shakspeare is an exception to all 
normal mortality : no rule applicable to inferior genius can be 
drawn from the specialty of that enigmatical monster!" 

This assertion would not be correct. Shakspeare is indeed 
the peerless prince of clairvoyants — "Nee viget quidquam 
simile aut secundum." But the scale of honor descends down- 
ward, and down, not only through the Dii Majores of Genius, 
but to many an earthborn Curius and Camillus. 

The gift of seeing through other organs than the eyes is 
more or less accurately shared by all in whom imagination 
is strongly concentred upon any selected object, however dis- 
tant and apart from the positive experience of material senses. 



38 THE NOKMAL CLAIRVOYAKCE 

Certainly if there Avere any creature in the world whom a quiet, 
prim, respectable printer could never have come across in the 
flesh and the blood, it would be a daring magnificent libertine 
— a roue of fashion the most exquisitely urbane — a prodigal of 
wit the most riotously lavish. It was only through clairvoy- 
ance that a Richardson could have ever beheld a Lovelace. 
But Richardson does not only behold Lovelace, he analyzes 
and dissects him — minutes every impulse in that lawless heart, 
unravels every web in that wily brain. The refiners on Shak- 
speai'e who Avould interpret his life from his writings, and re- 
duce his clairvoyance into commonplace reminiscence, would, 
by the same process of logic, prove Richardson to have been 
the confidential valet of Wilmot Lord Rochester ; or, at least 
in some time of his life, to have been a knavish attorney in the 
Old Bailey of love. Nothing is more frequent among novel- 
ists, even third-rate and fourth-rate, than " to see through other 
organs than their eyes." Clairvoyance is the badge of all their 
ti'ibe. They can describe scenes they have never witnessed 
more faithfully than the native who has lived amid those scenes 
from his cradle. 

I could cite many indisputable proofs of this phenomenon 
among my brethren in the masonry of fiction ; but as I here 
contend that the gift, so far from being a rare attribute of 
genius, is shared, in a greater or lesser degree, by all who eon- 
centre imagination on particular objects, I abstain from a refer- 
ence that would not convey the homage of a compliment, but 
the affront of a disparagement. And, therefore, neither in 
self-conceit nor in self-depreciation, but just as a chemist who 
suggests a theory naturally adds to his suggestion the state- 
ment of his own experiments, I ofier my personal evidence in 
favor of the doctrine I advance, viz., "that there is nothing so 
rare as to excite our incredulous wonder in the facility of see- 
ing 'through other organs than the eyes.'" I have had some- 
times to describe minutely scenes which, at the time of describ- 
ing, I had never witnessed. I visited those scenes later. I 
then examined them, with a natural apprehension that I must 
have committed some notable mistake to be carefully corrected 
in any subsequent edition of the work in which such descrip- 
tions had been temerariously adventured. In no single in- 
stance could I ever find, after the most rigid scrutiny, that the 
clairvoyance of imagination had deceived me. I found noth- 



OF THE IMAGINATION. 39 

ing in the scenery I witnessed to induce me to retouch an out- 
line or a coloring in the scenery I had imagined. I am not 
sure, indeed, that I could not describe the things I imagine 
more exactly than the things I habitually see. I am not sure 
that I could not give a more truthful picture of the Nile, which 
I have never beheld except in my dreams, than I could of the 
little lake at the bottom of my own park, on the banks of which 
I loitered out my school-boy holidays, and (could I but hallow 
their turf as Christian burial-ground) would desire to choose 
my grave. 

Well, but is it only poets and novelists — creatures whom 
my stock-broker would call " the children of fancy," and my 
apothecary classify among "highly -nervous patients" — is it 
only poets and novelists on whom the faculty of seeing "through 
other organs than the eyes" is bestowed ? 

When the great Rothschild leant his burly back against the 
old gray column in the money mart — " cuncta supercilio mo- 
vens" — no one covild supjjose that he founded his calculations 
on the numbers of the Hebrew Cabala — no one could ascribe 
to him any profound knowledge even of vulgar fractions. 
Shallow disparagers said, no doubt, that the luminous Jew had 
ample sources of secret information. So he had. But other 
Jews have had sources of secret information brought to bear 
on a judgment more cultured than that of the letterless Roths- 
child, and have still never gained his clairvoyance. 

Ten physicians may be equals in learning — know, with equal 
minuteness, our anatomical structure — may with equal research 
have ransacked the lore of prescriptions, scrutinized the same 
number of tongues, counted the same number of pulses; but, 
if I want to know what is really the cause of my suffering, I 
am assured by my apothecary that there is one man out of 
these ten physicians who " has the doctor's eye" — that is, the 
gift of clairvoyance. 

Men disciplined in the study of severest science, only through 
reason discover what through imagination they previse. I 
was mistaken in calling Shakspeare "peerless" in the gift of 
clairvoyance — Newton's clairvoyance is not less marvelous 
than Shakspeare's. To imagine the things they have never 
seen, and to imagine them accurately, constitutes tjie poetry 
of philosophers, as it constitutes the philosophy of poets. 
Kant startled an Englishman with a description of Westmin- 



40 THE NORMAL CLAIRVOYANCE v 

stei" Bridge, so minutely detailed that bis listener in amaze- 
ment asked him how many years he had lived in London! 
Kant had never been out of Prussia — scarcely out of Konigs- 
berg. 

Take that department of knowledge in which we most be- 
ware of mere fancy — "political knowledge." Who has not 
heard of "the prophetic eye of the statesman?" Nor is it 
only the great minister, to whose hands nations confide the 
destiny of races unborn, in whom this clairvoyance is notable. 
On the contrary, I suspect that men in high ofiice, compelled 
to deal with business as it rises from day to day, have less of 
" the prophetic eye" than many an obscure politician who has 
never gone to sleep on the Treasury bench. I have known 
men who sat on fifth rows in the House of Commons, and have 
never been heard in debate — nay, I have known men who never 
sat in Parliament at all — in whom "the prophetic eye" has 
been as sure as Cassandra's. Men who behold afar off the 
shadows of events not yet coming — predict the questions that 
will divide cabinets yet unformed — name, among the adver- 
saries of such questions, the converts by whose aid the ques- 
tions will be carried — and fix, as if they had read it in the al- 
manac, the very date in which some crotchety motion, the 
nursling of a minority, Avill rise into place among the laws of 
the land. Two men have I known, Avho, in this gift of political 
prevision, excelled all the chiefs of our senate ; the one was a 
satui'nine tailor, the other a meditative saddler. 

The truth really seems to be, that the imagination acquires 
by custom a certain involuntary, unconscious power of observa- 
tion and compai'ison, correcting its own mistakes, and arriving 
at i^recision of judgment, just as the outward eye is disciplined 
to compare, adjust, estimate, measure, the objects reflected on 
the back of its retina. The imagination is but the faculty of 
glassing images ; and it is with exceeding difficulty, and by 
the imperative will of the reasoning faculty resolved to mis- 
lead it, that it glasses images which have no prototype in truth 
and nature. I can readily imagine a wombat which I have 
never seen; but it is only with violent efibrt, and constrained 
by the false assurance of some naturalist, whose authority has 
subjected my reason, which in turn subjects ray imagination, 
that I can imagine a wombat with two heads. 

If an Oriental idolater figured to himself a deity in the form 



OF THE IMAGINATION. 41 

of a man, but with the beak of an eagle or the horns of a bull, 
it was because, by some philosophical abstraction, founded on 
metaphysical inquiries into the attributes of deity, the eagle's 
beak was a symbol of superterrestrial majesty, the bull's 
horns a symbol of superhuman power. This is not the error 
of simple, childlike imagination, but the deluding subtlety of 
parables in metaphysical science. Where the imagination is 
left clear from disturbing causes — no confusing shadow cast 
upon its wave from the shores that confine it — there, with an 
equal fidelity, it reflects the star that is aloof from it by myri- 
ads of miles, or the heron that has just soared from the neigh- 
boring reeds. 

The clairvoyance of poet or novelist is lucid in proportion 
as, while intent on forms remote, it is unruffled by the shift 
and change which are constantly varying the outlines of things 
familiar. On what immediately affects ourselves in our prac- 
tical personal existence our perceptions are rarely clear. The 
ablest lawyer, when threatened by a lawsuit that puts in jeo])- 
ardy his own estate, will take the advice of another counsel, 
whose judgment is free from the anxiety that affects his own ; 
the most penetrating physician, when seriously ill himself, 
summons a fellow-practitioner to examine his symptoms and 
prescribe his remedy. 

Be our business in life howsoever hard and prosaic, we shall 
not attain any eminent success in its conduct if we despise the 
clairvoyance which imagination alone bestows. No man can 
think justly but what he is compelled to imagine — that is, his 
thoughts must come before him in images. Every thought 
not distinctly imaged is imperfect and abortive. 

Hence, when some lover of the marvelous tells me, gape- 
mouthed, of the last astounding phenomenon in mesmeric clair- 
voyance, I somewhat disappoint him by saying, "Is that all?" 
For I can not pass half an hour in my library — I can not con- 
verse familiarly with any one capable of the simplest invention 
by which a thing or a thing's uses not discovered yesterday, 
seen to-day " through other organs than the eyes," will to- 
morrow be added to the world's practical possessions — but 
what I find instances of normal clairvoyance immeasurably 
more wonderful than those erratic gleams of lucidity in mag- 
netic sleep, which one man reveres as divine, and another man 
disdains as incredible. 



ESSAY V. 
(Dtt :3iitBlhrtnKl (E^nnliiirt ks Mstinrt frnra Mn^\: 

Not unfrequently we find the world according high position 
to some man in whom we recognize no merits commensm*ate 
with that sui^eriority Avhich we are called upon to confess ; no 
just claims to unwonted deference, whether in majestic genius 
or heroic virtue ; no titles even to that conventional homage 
which civilized societies have agreed to render to patrician an- 
cestry or to plebeian wealth. The moral character, the men- 
tal attributes of this Superior Man, adorned by no pomp or 
heraldic blazonry, no profusion of costly gilding, seem to us 
passably mediocre ; yet mediocrity, so wont to be envious, ac- 
knowledges his eminence, and sets him up as an authority. 
He is considered more safe than genius; more practical than 
virtue. Princes, orators, authors, yield to his mysterious as- 
cendency. He imposes himself on gods and men, quiet and 
inexorable as the Necessity of the Greek poets. Why or 
wherefore the Olympians should take for granted his right to 
the place he assumes, we know not, we humbler mortals ; but 
we yield where they yield — idle to contend against Necessity. 

Yet there is a cause for every eflect ; and a cause there must 
be for the superiority of this Superior Man, in whom there 
is nothing astonishing except his success. 

Examined closely, the cause may be found in this : True that 
his intellectual stature is no higher than ours, but, whether 
from art or from nature, it has got a portlier demeanor and a 
statelier gait. We do not measure its inches — we are so struck 
by the way it carries itself. 

In a word, there is an intellectual conduct as well as a moral 
conduct ; and as a fellow-mortal, in whom the gross propor- 
tions of good or evil are much about the average, may so con- 
duct himself morally, that somehow or other his faults are al- 



44 THE SUPERIOR MAN. 

ways in the shade, and his merits always in the sunlight, so a 
fellow-mortal may conduct himself intellectually, taking care 
that such mind as he has is never surprised in unfavorable 
positions. 

There are various secrets for that exaltation of mediocrity 
which is so felicitously illustrated in the repute of " the Supe- 
rior Man." Perhaps the secret most efficacious is to be found 
in judicious parsimony of speech. The less said the better. 
" Facunda silentia linguae," as Gray exjDresses it, with all his 
characteristic happiness of e^Dithet. If the exigencies of social 
life would allow of rigid silence, I do not doubt that rigid si- 
lence, with a practiced discipline of countenance, and a signifi- 
cant dijslomacy of gesture, would be esteemed the special indi- 
cation of wisdom. For as every man has a right to be consid- 
ered innocent till he be proved guilty, so every man has a right 
to be considered exempt from folly till he be proved foolish. 
It would be difficult to prove a man foolish who keeps himself to 
himself, and never commits his tongue to the risk of an opinion. 

A certain nobleman, some years ago, was conspicuous for his 
success in the Avorld. He had been employed in the highest 
situations at home and abroad, without one discoverable rea- 
son for his selection, and without justifying the selection by 
one proof of administrative ability. Yet at each appointment 
the public said, " A great gain to the government ! Superior 
man !" And when from each office he passed away, or rather 
passed imperceptibly onward toward office still more exalted, 
the public said, "A great loss to the government! Superior 
man !" He was the most silent person I ever met. But when 
the first reasoners of the age would argue some knotty point 
in his presence, he would, from time to time, slightly elevate 
his eyebrows, gently shake his head, or, by a dexterous smile 
of significant comiolacency, impress on you the notion how eas-- 
ily he could set those babblers right, if he would but conde- 
scend to give voice to the wisdom within him. 

I was very young Avhen I first met this Superior Man ; and 
chancing the next day to call on the late Lord Durham, I said, 
in the presumption of early years, " I passed six mortal hours 

last evening in company with Lord . I don't think there 

is much in him !" 

" Good heavens !" cried Lord Durham, " how did you find 
that out ? Is it j)0ssible that he could have — talked ?" 



THE SUPERIOR MAN. 45 

The Pythagorean example set by the fortunate peer I have 
referred to, few can emulate to an equal abnegation of the haz- 
ardous faculty of speech. But the more a man, desirous to 
pass at a value above his worth, can contrast by dignified si- 
lence the garrulity of trivial minds, the more the world will 
give him credit for the wealth which he does not possess. 
When we see a dumb strong-box Avith its lid braced down in 
iron clasps, and secured by a jealous padlock, involuntarily we 
suppose that its contents must be infinitely more precious than 
the gauds and knickknacks which are unguardedly scattered 
about a lady's drawing-room. Who could believe that a box 
so rigidly locked had nothing in it but odds and ends, which 
would be just as safe in a bandbox ? When we analyze the 
virtue of a prudent silence, we gain a clew to other valuable 
secrets in the mystei-y of intellectual conduct. The main reason 
why silence is so efiicacious an element of repute is, 1st,' be- 
cause of that magnification which proverbially belongs to the 
unknown ; and, 2dly, because silence provokes no man's envy, 
and wounds no man's self-love. Hence the gifts congruous to, 
and concomitant with, the genius of taciturnity are, 1st, that 
genei-al gravity of demeanor which Rochefoucauld happily 
terms "the mystery of the body;" and, 2dly, an abstinence 
from all the shows and pretenses by which one man provokes 
the self-love of others in the arrogant parade of his own self- 
esteem. 

He who, seeing how much Ajipearances govei'n the world, 
desires himself to achieve the rank of an Appearance, and ob- 
tain, as such, the credit that is accorded to the substance of 
merit, yet be as safe as a jDhantom against the assaults to which 
the substance is unavoidably exposed, will be duly mindful of 
the rules thus prescribed to his conduct of himself His life 
will be as void as his talk of all aggressive briUiancy. His 
dress will be decorous — for a sloven invites ridicule ; but stu- 
dious of that plainness which disarms the jealousy of fops. 
His entertainments will be hospitable, his table good — for civ- 
ilized man has the gratitude of the palate ; but he Avill shun 
the ostentation which wounds the pride of the poor, and irri- 
tates the vanity of the rich. The guest should carry away 
with hira the benignant reminiscence of a courteous reception 
and a savoiy repast, with a heart unaggrieved by a mortifying 
pomp, and a digestion unspoiled by splenetic envy. Dante 



46 THE SUPERIOE MAN. 

says of the valley in whicli bis pilgrimage commences, -Z>ove il 
sol tace — " Where the sun is silent." The sun of the Man su- 
perior to his deserts is always silent. 

In his intellectual conduct, this admirable Personage thus on 
principle avoids making enemies. Extreme in nothing, and 
neutral whenever he can be so without giving offense, he is no 
violent party-man. Violent party-men are always ill used by 
the chiefs of j^arty ; it is the moderate men whom the chiefs 
desire to secure; and even the antagonistic journals do not 
blame the minister who rewards the seasonable vote of a judi- 
cious temporizer by the place he is not so rashly grateful as to 
bestow on a supporter indiscreetly enthusiastic. On the other 
hand, the Superior Man steers as clear from inconvenient friend- 
ships as from vindictive enmities. He confides to no one his 
infirmities or his sorrows ; in his intervals of bodily sickness 
he only complains to his physician ; for infirmity and sorrow 
are indisputable evidences of our frail mortality, and as such 
they deconsider (may the Gallicism be pardoned) the idealized 
Appearance to which the mortal is refined. The sham or ei- 
dolon of a Superior Man can not afford to be convicted of a 
weakness. He puts it into the power of no Pylades to say, 
"Poor Orestes, what a pity he should be so fond of that bag- 
gage Herraione !" The Superior Man sows only a plentiful 
crop of useful acquaintances. He is as much bound by his 
tenure of position to avoid sowing friends as the farmer was 
bound in old leases to abstain from sowing flax. Flax and 
friendship draw from the soil more nutriment than they give 
back to it. 

The Superior Man is not one with w^hom you would take a 
liberty. You do not expect from him those trifling services 
which you ask from the man who permits you to consider him 
your friend ; you do not write to him to hire you a house or 
engage yoii a servant ; you never say of him, " The best crea- 
ture alive !" Consequently he escajDes all the taxes which so- 
cial intercourse levies on the man who is weak enough to pay 
them. He is asked for nothing ; so that when he gives some- 
thing, unsolicited and of his own accord, his generosity is in all 
men's mouths. 

To preserve this sublime independence from the claims of 
others, it is essential that the Superior Man should never be 
known to ask for any thing for himself. Nor does he; he 



THE SUPERIOR MAN. 47 

gets what he wants without asking : offers are made to him • 
the things he desires are pressed upon him ; he accepts them — 
from a sense of duty ! He is fond of the word Duty ; it is oft- 
en in his mouth ; it is a word that offends nobody, and has in 
this an advantage over significants of merit more high-sound- 
ing, such as Honor, Virtue, Morality, Religion. He owes a 
duty to himself — to make the most of himself that he possibly 
can do. He discharges that duty — as if he were a martyr to 
the public. 

The Superior Man never calumniates, never wantonly slan- 
ders another ; but he never provokes hostility by admiring or 
defending another. All men worthy of praise are sure to have 
powerful antagonists to whom the praise of them is offensive. 
To praise a great man is a challenge and an insult to those 
who decry. But why go out of one's Avay to take his part ? 
Is he a great man ? Then Posterity will do him justice ; leave 
him to Posterity; Posterity can do you no harm. Besides, 
admiration of another is a half confession of inferioiity in your- 
self. Who admires that which he possesses in a superior de- 
gree ? The Superior Man, so long as he maintains himself an 
Appearance, possesses every thing to a degree superior to those 
by whom any thing is indiscreetly adventured. If he do not 
do so, it is for you to discover it, not for him to confess it. 
Usually, therefore, when the Superior Man speaks of a great 
man, it is with a delicate kindness, an exquisite indulgent com- 
passion that attests his own superiority. The veteran hero is 
"my poor old friend;" the rising statesman is "that clever 
young fellow — as times go!" The Superior Man, whatever 
his birth, is in one respect at least always a gentleman — in ap- 
pearance. He is not cringing to the lofty — he is not rude to 
the lowly. He knows that the real Great World, with all its 
disparities, has at heart much of the democracy of a public 
school, and he avails himself of that truth to obtain, in a gen- 
eral, well-bred Avay, the j^rivileges of equality with all whom 
he shakes by the hand. This is to his advantage; for he so 
contrives it that those Avhose hands are of no use to him are 
contented with his gracious and cordial nod. The hands he 
shakes are the hands that help him to rise. 

He is what the world calls " an Enlightened Man ;" but, 
practical as well as enlightened, while he keeps up with his 
own time, he never goes beyond it. What to him is all time 



48 THE SUPERIOR MAN. 

after he shall have gone to his grave ? "I dead, the world is 
dead," saith the Italian proverb. Nor are his opinions known 
till as a Superior Man he is sure to be in his right place with 
the superior party. If this Christian people were to turn Mo- 
hammedan, so long as they were in a state of transition, the 
Superior Man would slip out of sight. You would hear noth- 
ing of him while saints Avere fighting and martyrs burning. 
But when the crisis was over, and St. Paul's Cathedral was 
converted into the Grand Mosque, you would see hira walking 
down the street, on his way to the temple, arm-in-arm with the 
prime minister. 



ESSAY VI. 

Plutarch has an essay upon that defect- ■\vbicli he calls Dus- 
opia (cvawizia) — a word signifying an unhappy facility of being 
jDut out of countenance — viz., shamefaceduess — shyness. Plu- 
tarch seems to consider that Dusopia consisted chiefly in the 
difficulty of saying No, and has a stock of anecdotes illustra- 
ting the tragic consequences which may result from that pusil- 
lanimous characteristic of Shyness. It not only subjects us to 
the loss of our money when a slippery acquaintance asks us for 
a loan which we are perfectly aware he never intends to re- 
pay, but sometimes life itself is the penalty of that cowardly 
shyness which can not say No to a disagreeable invitation. 
Antipater was invited to an entertainment by Demetrius, and, 
feeling ashamed to evince distrust of a man whom he himself 
had entertained the day before, went forebodingly to the sham- 
bles. Polysperchon had been bribed by Cassander to make 
away with Hercules, tlie young son whom Barsina bore to 
Alexander. Accordingly he invited Hercules to supper. So 
long as Plercules could get off the invitation by note or mes- 
sage, he valiantly excused himself; but when Polysperchon 
called in person, and said, burlily, "Why do you refuse my in- 
vitation ? Gods! can you suspect me of any design against 
your life ?" poor Hercules was too shy to imply, by continued 
refusal, that such design was exactly what he suspected. Ac- 
cordingly, he suflered himself to be carried away, and in the 
midst of the supper was murdered. 

Nowadays, Shyness does not entail on us a fate so lugubri- 
ously tragic. True that a perfidious host does his best to poi- 
son us by a villainous entree., or "the pure beverage" secured 
to us, by commercial treaty, at a shilling a bottle ; still, the 
effect is not usually mortal. Permitted to return home, we 
have a fair chance of recovery. The poison maybe neutral- 
ized by sable antidotes, combining salts with senna; or scien- 

C 



50 SHYNESS. 

tifically -withdrawn from the system by applying an instru- 
ment, constructed on hydranUc princii:)les, to the cavity as- 
signed to digestive operations. 

I do not, therefore, cite from Plutarch the fate of Hercules 
as a fair instance of the danger we may anticipate, if too shy 
to say No to an invitation which it oppresses the spirits to ac- 
cept, but rather to notice, with a certain consolatory pride (be- 
ing myself somewhat shy by original constitution), how much, 
in one j^eculiar development of Shyness, I resemble the son of 
Alexander the Great. That unfortunate prince could excuse 
himself from Polysperchon's odious invitation so long as Poly- 
sjDerchou did not urge it in j)erson. Just like me ! Send me 
an invitation to dinner to which I can reply by note or mes- 
sage, and if I wish to say " No," I can say it like a man ; but 
invaded in my own house, or waylaid in the street, clapped on 
the shoulder, accosted vigorously, with a hypocritical frank- 
ness, "Fie, my dear sir, not dine with me? What are you 
afraid of? Do you think I shall give you the Gladstone 
claret?"- then Dusopia seizes me at once; I succumb like the 
son of Alexander. And every man entitled to call himself 
Shy would, if similarly pressed, prove as weak as Hercules 
and I. 

Whole communities have been enslaved by Shyness. Plu- 
tarch quotes the saying that the people of Asia only submitted 
to a single despot because they were too bashful to pronounce 
the word No. 

We ourselves, we sturdy English, were seized with that 
cowardly but well-bred Dusopia on the Restoration of Charles 
II. We became, all at once, too shy to ask for the smallest of 
those safeguards against absolute rule for which we had just 
before been shedding our life-blood. It seemed so unmanner- 
ly to pester that pleasant young prince with the very business 
which would annoy him the most ; it was so much more polite 
to trust our freedom to a man of such station, as a debt of 
honor between gentleman and gentleman, than to vulgarize a 
generous confidence to the mercantile formalities of a legal se- 
curity. It was Shyness, and nothing else, that made the bash- 
ful conquerors in the Great Rebellion so delicately silent about 
themselves in the welcome they gave to the courteous and ele- 
gant exile. In fact, they have no other excuse; they were 
shy, and they shied away their liberties. 



SHYNESS. 51 

But the difficulty of saying No is not the only character- 
istic of Shyness, though it is, perhaps, of all characteristics, that 
which the Shy have most in common. 

The shy man par excellence — the man inveterately, idiosyn- 
cratically shy — is exposed to perils at every angle of his sensi- 
tive many-sided conformation. His servants disregard him — 
he is too shy to tell them of their faults. His very friendships 
wound him — the very benefits he confers are so awkwardly 
given that they are resented as injuries. He loses the object 
of his affection because he is too bashful to woo. He is snapped 
up by a masculine shrew, who insists upon having him because 
she sees she can rule hini. As soon as he is married, he is at 
his wife's mercy — a woman is seldom merciful to the man who 
is timid. 

If he ever shine in a career, it is by sheer merit of so rare 
an order that it lights up its -owner in spite of himself. But 
whether in the world or in his household, he weaves a solitude 
round him. He is shy to his very children. His new-born 
babe stares him out of countenance. 

Providence, so mindful of all its creatures, bestows on the 
shy man two properties for self-defense. Tlie first is dissimu- 
lation. As frankness is the very reverse of shyness, so to be 
uniformly shy is to be habitually secret. The poor wretch 
does not mean to be deceitful, but he can not help it. He 
sometimes astounds those who think they know him best by 
what appears at the surface to be the blackest perfidy. He 
sufiers annoyances to accumulate without implying by a word 
that he even feels them, until he can bear them no longer. 
Then suddenly he absconds, shuts himself up in sonje inacces- 
sible fortress, and has recourse to his pen, with Avhich, safe at 
a distance, his shyness corrupts into ferocity. It was but the 
other day that a shy acquaintance of mine threw his family 
into consternation by going off, none knew whither, and send- 
ing his lawyer with a deed of separation to the unsuspecting 
wife, who for ten years had tormented him without jorovoking 
a syllable of complaint. 

Another safeguard to the shy man is in the contagion of 
Shyness that he communicates to others. It is difficult not to 
feel shy when brought in contact with the shy. They give 
you no opening to the business which you wish to transact 
with them. As Plutarch says, " they will not look you in the 



62 SHYXESS. 

face." It seems, while you talk, as if they suspected you to 
be a pickpocket. Therefore, unconsciously to yourself, but 
from your natural desire to prove yourself an honest man, you 
soften in their favor the terms you would otherwise have pro- 
posed. Nor is this all; for if they have certain claims to re- 
spect, natural or acquired, such as high birth, superior wealth, 
reputation for learning, sanctity, or genius, their timidity in- 
spires you with awe. You mistake it for pride. The atmos- 
phere around them, if withering to cordial friendship, is equal- 
ly repellaut of intrusive presumption. They take liberties 
with no one ; it would be a monstrous impertinence to take 
liberties with them. These, unquestionably, are safeguards to 
a creature otherwise helpless. The self-conservation of bold 
.animals is boldness; of timid, in timidity. 

I have been treating here of the man incorrigibly, perma- 
nently shy. But a large proportion of us are shy in early life, 
and cease to be so as we live on ; and many of us remain, to a 
certain degree, shy to the last, but not so shy as to be emphat- 
ically shy. 

In youth, our individual position is uncertain and dubious. 
Be our birth ever so ancient, our fortune ever so large, still 
our own personal merit remains to be assessed, and a proud 
or sensitive nature will be desirous of an aiDprobation for some- 
thing distinct from a pedigree or a rent-roll. jSI^ay, among the 
young, in England especially. Shyness w411 be found more prev- 
alent with the high-born than the plebeian. The jjlebeian, 
who has in him the force and desire to shoulder his own way 
through the crowd, more often errs by the rude eagerness to 
combat than the refining anxiety to please. 

Vigorous competition is the best cure for a morbid excess 
of Shyness. Thus it is noticeable that the eldest sons of good 
family are generally more shy than the younger, and probably 
shy in proportion as they feel within themselves merits distinct 
from their social advantages, but which they are not compelled 
to test betimes like their younger brothers. But high rank is 
in England so generally associated with the discharge of pub- 
lic duties, that if these elder sons be born to pre-eminent sta- 
tions, their shyness will often wear away when their faculties 
are called into exercise by the very inheritance which deprives 
them of the stimulus of gain, but, bi-inging them at once be- 
fore the criticism of public opinion, supplies a motive for cov- 



SHYNESS. 53 

etiug public esteem. A great proprietor doubles his influence 
in his county if he be active or beloved. In the House of Lords 
itself, a baron and a duke meet foot to foot upon equal terms; 
and if the baron prove himself the better man of the two, he 
will be the weightier peer. Thus many a young noble, op- 
pressively shy while he is nothing but a young noble, becomes 
self-composed and self-confident when he succeeds to his inher- 
itance, and has to show what there is in him, not as noble 
alone, but as man. 

To come back to Plutarch — Shyness has its good qualities, 
and has only its bad when it is Dusopia in excess. " "VVe must 
prune it with care," says our philosopher, " so as only to re- 
move the redundant branches, and not injure the stem, Avhich 
has its root in the generous sensitiveness to shame." 

A certain degree of shyness in early life is, indeed, not the 
invariable, but still the most frequent concomitant of that de- 
sire of esteem Avhich is jealous of honor, or that love of glory 
which concentres genius on objects worty of renown. 

I grant, indeed, that merit is not always modest. TVhen a 
man has unmistakably done a something that is meritorious, 
he must know it ; and he can not in his heart undervalue that 
something, otherwise he would never have strained all his 
energies to do it. But till he has done it, it is not sure that 
he can do it ; and if, relying upon what he fancies to be gen- 
ius, he does not take as much pains as if he were dull, the 
probability is that he will not do it at all. Therefore merit 
not proved is modest ; it covets approbation, but is not sure 
that it can win it. And while thus eager for its object, and 
secretly strengthening all its powers to achieve it by a wise 
distrust of unproved capacities, and a fervent admiration for 
the highest models, merit is tremulously shy. 

Akin, indeed, with Shyness, more lasting — often as strong 
in the zenith of a career as at its commencement — is a certain 
nervous susceptibility, a per^Detual comparison between one's 
own powers and some ideal standard of excellence which one 
can never wholly attain, but toward which one is always striv- 
ing. " Every wyse man," says Roger Ascham, with a mean- 
ing not less profound for the paradox that appears on the sur- 
face — " every wyse man that wysely would learn any thing, 
shall chiefly go about that whereunto he know^eth well that he 
shall never come." And the old scholar explains his dogma 
thus: 



54 SHYNESS. 

" 111 evevy crafte there is a perfect excellency, which may be 
better known in a man's mind than followed in a man's dede. 
This perfectuesse, because it is generally layed as a broad 
wyde example afore all men, no one particular man is able to 
coinpasse ; and as it is general to all men, so it is perpetual for 
all time, which i)roveth it a thing for man impossible — although 
not for the capacities of his thinking, which is heavenleye, yet 
surely for the ability of our workings, which is worldly." 
And this quaint precursor'and foreshadower of the German 
philosopher's -testhetic archetype proceeds to argue that this 
ideal "perfectuesse" prevents despair; "for no man being so 
perfect but what another may be better, every man may be 
encouraged to take more pains than his fellows." 

Now I apprehend that the ideal excellence thus admirably 
described is always jDresent to the contemplation of the high- 
est order of genius, and tends to quicken and perpetuate the 
nervous susceptibility, Avhich insj^ires courage while it seems 
like fear. 

Nervousness, to give the susceptibility I sj^eak of its familiar 
name, is perhaps the quality which great orators .have the most 
in common. I doubt whether there has been any i^ublic speak- 
er of the highest order of eloquence who has not felt an anx- 
iety or apprehension, more or less actually painful, before ris- 
ing to address an audience upon any very imiDortant subject 
on which he has meditated beforehand. This nervousness will, 
indeed, probably be proportioned to the amount of previous 
preparation, even though the necessities of reply or the change- 
ful temperament which characterizes public assemblies may 
compel the orator to modify, alter, perhaps wholly reject, what, 
in previous preparation, he had designed to say. The fact of 
preparation itself had impressed him with the dignity of the 
subject — with the responsibilities that devolve on an advocate 
from whom much is expected, on whose individual utterance 
results affecting the interests of many may depend. His im- 
agination had been roused and warmed, and there is no imag- 
ination where there is no sensibility. Thus the orator had 
mentally surveyed, as it were, at a distance, the loftiest height 
of his argument ; and now, when he is about to ascend to it, 
the awe of the altitude is felt. 

According to traditions, despite the majestic self-possession 
Lord Macaulay truly ascribes to'the tenor of his life, Mr. Pitt 



SHT^^ESS. 55 

was nevvous before rising to speak ; hence, perhaps, his re- 
course to stimulants. A surgeon, eminent iu Brighton, some 
years ago told me that when he was a shopboy in London, he 
used to bring to Mr. Pitt the dose of laudanum and sal volatile 
which the great statesman habitually took before speaking. 
The laudanum perhaps hurt his constitution more than the port 
wine, which he drank by the bottle ; the wine might be neces- 
sary to sustain the physical spirits lowered by the laudanum. 
Mr. Fox was nervous before speaking; so, I have heard, Avas 
Lord Plunket. A distinguished member of the Whig party, 
now no more, and who Avas himself one of the most sensitive 
of men and one of tlie most attractive of orators, told me that 
once in the House of Commons he had crossed over to speak 
to Mr. Canning on some question of public business a little 
time before the latter delivered one of his most remarkable 
speeches, and on taking the hand Mr. Canning extended to 
him, he exclaimed, " I fear you are ill, your hand is so cold and 
damp." " Is it ?" answered Canning, STuiling ; " so much the 
better; that shows how nervous I am ; I shall sj^eak well to- 
night." Mr. Stapylton remarks how perceptible to those famil- 
iar with Mr. Canning was the dilference in his aspect and man- 
ner before and after one of his great orations ; and a very 
clever French writer upon the Art of Oratory compares the 
anguish {aiigoisse) which opjjresses the mind of a public speak- 
er while burdened with the sense of some great truth that he 
is charged to utter, with the joyous elation of sj^irit that fol- 
lows the relief from the load. 

The truth is, that nervousness is sympathetic. It imparts a 
strange magnetic affinity with the audience; it redoubles the 
orator's attention to the eflect he is producing on his audience j 
it quickens his self-possession, it stimulates his genius, it im- 
presses on those around him a fellow-feeling, for it evinces 
earnestness, and earnestness is the soul of oratory — the link be- 
tween the lips of one and the hearts of many. Round an orb 
that is self-luminous the atmosphere always quivers. When a 
man does not feel nervous before rising, he may certainly make 
an excellent sensible speech, but let him not count on realizing 
the higher success which belongs to great orators alone. 

In speeches thoroughly impromptu, in Avhich the mind of the 
speaker has not had leisure to brood over what he is called 
upon suddenly to say, the nervousness either does not exist or 



66 SHYNESS. 

is mucli less painfully felt, because then the speaker has not 
set before his imagination some ideal perfection to which he 
desires to attain, and of which he fears to fall short. And this 
I take to be the main reason why speakers who so value them- 
selves on readiness that they never revolve beforehand what 
they can glibly utter, do not rise beyond mediocrity. To no 
such speaker has posterity accorded the name of orator. The 
extempore speaker is not an orator , though the orator must 
of necessity be, when occasion calls for it, an extempore speak- 
er. Extemporaneous speaking is, indeed, the groundwork of 
the orator's art ; preparation is the last finish, and the most 
difficult of all his accomplishments. To learn by heart as a 
school-boy, or to prepare as an orator, are two things not only 
essentially different, but essentially antagonistic to each other; 
for the work most opposed to an effective oration is an elegant 
essay. 

As with the orator, so, though in a less degree, it is with 
the writer — indeed, with all intellectual aspirants. The author, 
whatever he attempts, from an epic to an epigram, should set 
before his ambition that " perfect excellency which is better 
known in a man's mind than followed in a man's dedc." Aim 
at the highest, and at least you soar ; but the moment you set 
before yourself an ideal of excellency, you are as subject to dif- 
fidence as, according to Roger Ascham, you are freed from de- 
spair. Emulation, even in the brutes, is sensitively " nervous." 
See the tremor of the thorough-bred racer before he starts. 
The dray-horse does not tremble, but he does not emulate. It 
is not his work to run a race. Says JMarcus Antoninus, " It is 
all one to a stone whether it be thrown upward or downward." 
Yet the emulation of a man of genius is seldom with his con- 
temporaries — that is, inwardly, in his mind, although outward- 
ly, in his acts, it would seem so. The competitors with whom 
his secret ambition seems to vie are the dead. Before his vis- 
ion rise all the masters of the past in the art to which he de- 
votes his labor. If he forget them to study his contempora- 
ries, he is undone — he becomes a plagiarist. From that Avhich 
time has made classical we can not plagiai'ize. The spirit of 
our own age compels us to be original, even where we imitate 
the forms of an age gone by. Moliere can not plagiarize from 
Terence and Plautns, nor Racine from Euripides, nor Pope 
from Horace, nor Walter Scott from the old Border Minstrels. 



SHYNESS. 57 

Where they imitate they reproduce. But we can not repro- 
duce what is actually living. AVe can not reproduce our con- 
temporaries ; we can but copy them if we take them as our 
models. The desire of excellence is the necessary attribute of 
those who excel. We work little for a thing unless we wish 
for it. Bat Ave can not of ourselves estimate the degree of our 
success in what we strive for; that task is left to others. 
With the desire for excellence comes, therefore, the desire for 
approbation. And this distinguishes intellectual excellence 
from moral excellence ; for the latter has no necessity of human 
tribunal ; it is more inclined to shrink from the public than 
to invite the public to be its judge. To the aspirants to moral 
good the vox pojmli is not the vox Dei. The Capitol has no 
laurel crowns for their brows ; enough for them if they pass 
over earth unobserved, silently educating themselves for heav- 
en. There are natures so happily constituted that they are 
moved irresistibly to good by an inborn affinity to goodness ; 
for some souls, like some forms, are born into the world, beau- 
tiful, and take as little apparent pains as do beautiful forms to 
increase or j^reserve beauty. They have but to maintain health 
by the way of life most in harmony with their organization, 
and their beauty endures to the last ; for old age has a beauty 
of its own, even in the physical form ; and the Moral Beauti- 
ful gradually becomes venerable without even losing its bloom. 

But these natures are exceptions to the ordinary law of our 
race, which proportions the moral worth of a man, as it does 
the worth of a work from his hand, to the degree of skilled 
labor by which he has transformed into new shapes the orig- 
inal raw material. And labor needs motive, and motive im- 
plies reward. 

To moral excellence there are two rewards, neither of which 
is bestowed by the loud huzzas of the populace ; one within 
the conscience — one far out of reach, beyond the stars. 

But for intellectual excellence, man asks first a test, and next 
a reward, in the praise of his fellow-men. 

Therefore the love of human approbation is at the root of 
all those sustained labors by which man works out his ideal 
of intellectual excellence ; at least so generally that we need 
not care to count the exceptions. During the later stages of 
a great career, that love of approbation, in a mind well disci- 
plined, often ceases to be perceptible, chiefly because it has be- 

C2 



58 SHYNESS. 

come too habitually familiar to retain distinctness. "We are, 
then, as little acutely sensible of the ])ervacling force of the 
motive, as, while in health, Ave are sensible of the beats of our 
l)ulse and the circulation of our blood. But there it still is, 
no less — tliere^ in the pulse, in the blood. A cynic or a misan- 
thrope may disown it; but if he have genius, and the genius 
urge him to address men even in vindication of misanthropy 
and cynicism, he is inevitably courting the aj:)probation which 
he pretends to scorn. As Cicero says with quiet irony, " The 
authors who aifect contempt for a name in the world, put their 
names to the books Avhich they invite the world to read." 
But to return to my starting-point — The desire of approbation 
Avill be accompanied by that nervous susceptibility which, how- 
ever well disguised, is inseparable from the vibrating oscilla- 
tion between hope and fear. And this nervousness in things 
not made mechanically familiar by long practice will be in pro- 
portion to the height of a man's own standard of excellence, 
and the care with Avhicli he measures the difficulties that inter- 
pose between a cherished conception and a worthy execution 
of design. 

Out of this nervousness .comes the shyness common to all 
youth, Avhere it aspires to excel and fears to fail. 

It follows, from what I have said, that those races are the 
most active, have accomjolished the greatest marvels of energy, 
and, on the whole, exhibit the highest standard of public hon- 
esty in administrative departments, to which the national char- 
acter of Shyness is generally accorded, distinct from its false 
counterfeit — Pride. 

For the best guarantee for honesty is a constant sense of 
responsibility, and that sense is rendered lively and acute by 
a certain anxious diffidence of self, which is — Shyness. And 
again, it is that diffidence which makes men take pains to win 
and deserve success — stimulates energy and sustains persever- 
ance. 

The Turk is proud, not shy ; he walks the world, or rather 
lets the world walk by him, serene in his self-esteem. The 
Red Indian is proud, not shy; his dignity admits of no Dus- 
opia — is never embarrassed nor taken by surprise. But the 
Turk and the Red Indian do not improve ; and when civiliza- 
tion approaches them, it is rather to corrupt than enlighten. 
The British race are shy to a proverb. And what shore does 



SHYNESS. 59 

not bear the stamp of their footstep? What boundary hi the 
regions of intellect has yet satisfied their ardor of progress? 
Ascham's ideal of perfectness is in the mind of the whole na- 
tion. 

To desire to do something, not only as well as it can be 
done, but better than we can do it — to feel to exaggeration all 
our own natural deficiencies toward the doing of it — to resolve 
by redoubled energy and perseverance to extract from art 
whatever may supply those deficiencies in nature — this is the 
surest way to become great — this is the character of the En- 
glish race — this should be the character of an English genius. 

But he who thus feels, thus desires, and thus resolves, will 
keep free from rust those mainsprings of action — the sensibil- 
ity to shame, and the yearning toward j^erfection. It is the 
elasticity of the watchspring that renders it the essential prin- 
ciple to the mechanism of the watch ; but elasticity is only the 
property of solid bodies to recover, after yielding to pressure, 
their former shape. The mind which retains to the last youth's 
quick susceptibility to disgrace and to glory, retains to the 
last the power to resume the shape that it wore in youth. 
Cynicism is old at twenty. Impudence has no elasticity. If 
you care no more than the grasshopper for the favor of gods 
and the reverence of men, your heart has the age of Tithonus, 
though your cheek have the bloom of Achilles. But if, even 
alone in your room or a desert, you could still blush or turn 
pale at the thought of a stain on your honor — if your crest 
still could rise, your pvdse quicken, at the fiash of some noble 
thought or brave deed — then you have the heart of Achilles, 
though at the age of Tithonus. There is a certain august 
shamefacedness — the Romans called it Pudge — which, under 
hairs white as snow, preserves the aspect of youth to all per- 
sonations of honor, of valor, of genius. 



ESSAY VIL 

(Dtt tjiB 3^itiiiigniBnt nf 3.ttnnn|. 

(ADDRESSED CHIEFLY TO THE YOUNG.) 

I]sr a work of fiction I once wrote this sentence, which per- 
haps may be found, if considered,' suggestive of some practical 
truths — "Money is character."- 

In the humbler grades of life, certainly character is money. 
The man who gives me his labor in return for the wages wliich 
the labor is worth, pledges to me something more than Iiis la- 
bor — he pledges to me certain qualities of his moral being, 
such as honesty, sobriety, and diligence. If, in these respects, 
he maintain his character, he Avill have my money as long as I 
want his labor; and, when I want his labor no longer, his 
character is money's worth to him from somebody else. If, in 
addition to the moral qualities I have named, he establish a 
character for other attributes which have their own price in 
the money market — if he exhibit a superior intelligence, skill, 
energy, zeal — his labor rises in value. Thus, in the humblest 
class of life, character is money ; and according as the man 
earns or spends the money, money in turn becomes character. 

As money is the most evident power in the world's uses, so 
the use that he makes of money is often all that the world 
knows about a man. Is our money gained justly and spent 
prudently? our character establishes a claim on respect. Is it 
gained nobly and spent beneficently ? our character commands 
more than respect — it wins a place in that higher sphere of 
opinion which comprises admiration, gratftude, love. Is mon- 
ey, inherited without merit of ours, lavished recklessly away ? 
our character disperses itself with the spray of the golden 
shower — it is not the money alone of which we are spendthrifts. 
Is money meanly acquired, selfishly hoarded ? it is not the 
money alone of which we are misers; we are starving our own 
human hearts — depriving them of their natural aliment in the 
approval and affection of others. "We invest the money which 



62 MANAGEMENT OF MONEY. 

we fancy so safe out at compound interest, in the very worst 
possession a man can purchase — viz., an odious reputation. In 
fact, the more we look round, the more we shall come* to ac- 
knowledo-e that there is no test of a man's chai'acter more cen- 
erally adopted than the way in which his money is managed. 
Money is a terrible blab ; she Avill betray the secrets of her 
owner whatever he do to gag her. His virtues will creep out 
in her whisper — his vices she will cry aloud at the top of her 
tongue. 

But the management of money is an art? True, but that 
which we call an art means au improvement, and not a deteri- 
oration, of a something existent already in nature; and the 
artist can only succeed in improving his art in proportion as 
he improves himself in the qualities which the art demands in 
the artist. IN^ow the management of money is, in much, the 
management of self. If heaven allotted to each man seven 
guardian angels, five of them, at least, would be found night 
and day hovering over his pockets. 

On the first rule of the art of managing money all precejD- 
tors must be agreed. It is told in three words — " Horror of 
Debt." 

Nurse, cherish, never cavil away, the wliolesome horror of 
Debt, Personal liberty is the paramount essential to human 
dignity and human happiness. Man hazards the condition, and 
loses the virtues of freeman, in proportion as he accustoms his 
thoughts to view, without anguish and shame, his lapse into 
the bondage of debtor. Debt is to man what the serpent is 
to the bird ; its eye fascinates, its breath poisons, its coil 
crushes sinew and bone, its jaw is the pitiless grave. If you 
mock my illustration, if you sneer at the truth it embodies, 
give yourself no farther trouble to learn how to manage your 
money. Consider yoiirself doomed ; pass on your way with 
a jaunty step; the path is facile — j^aths to Avernus always are. 
But if, while I writ^, your heart, true to the instinct of man- 
hood, responds to my words — if you say, "Agreed; that which 
you call the first rule for the management of money, I hold yet 
more imperative as the necessity to freedom and the lifespring 
of probity" — then advance on your way, assured that wher- 
ever it wind it must ascend. You see but the temple of Hon- 
or ; close behind it is the temple of Fortune. You will i^ass 
through the one to the other. 



MANAGEME^S'T OF MOXET. 63 

"But," sighs the irresohite youth, wliom the eye of the ser- 
pent has ah'eady charmed, " it is by no means so easy to keep 
out of debt as it is to write warnings against getting into it." 

Easy to keep out of debt! Certainly not. Xothing in life 
worth an effort is easy. Do you expect to know the lirst six 
books of Euclid by inspiration ? Could you get over that 
problem in the first book, popularly called the Ass's Bridge, 
without a sigh of fatigue? Can you look back to the rudi- 
mentary agonies of the Multii^lication Table and the Rule of 
Three, or As i?i 2)i'(esenti, or even Propria qiue marihus, with- 
out a lively recollection of the moment when you fairly gave 
in, and said, "This is too much for human powers?" Even in 
things the pleasantest, if we wish to succeed Ave must toil. 
We are all Adam's children. Whatever we culture on earth, 
till we win our way back into Eden, we must earn by the 
sweat of our brow or the sweat of our brain. Xot even the 
Sybarite was at ease on his rose-bed — even for him some labor 
was needful. IsTo hand save his own could uncrumple the rose- 
leaf that chafed him. Each object under the sun reflects a 
difficulty on the earth. "Every hair," says that exquisite 
Publius Syrus, whose fragments of old verse are Avorth libra- 
ries of modern comedies, "every hair casts its shadow." 

But think, oh young man ! of the object I place before you, 
and then be ashamed of yourself if you still sigh, "Easy to 
preach, and not easy to practice." I have no interest in the 
preaching ; your interest is immense in the practice. That ob- 
ject not won, your heart has no peace, and your hearth no se- 
curity. Your conscience itself leaves a door open night and 
day to the tempter — night and day, to the ear of a debtor, 
steal Avhispers that prompt to the deeds of a felon. Three 
years ago you admired the rising success of some — most re- 
spectable man. Where is he now? In the dock — in the jail 
— in the hulks? What! that opulent banker, whose plate 
dazzled princes ? or that flourishing clerk, who drove the high- 
stepping horse to his ofiice? The same. And his crime? 
Fraud and SAvindling. What demon could urge so respect- 
able a man to so shameful an act? I know not the name of 
the demon, but the cause of the crime the wretch tells you him- 
self. Ask him: what is his answer? "I got into debt — no 
way to get out of it but the way which I took — to the docl' 
to the jail, to the hulks !" 



64 MANAGEMENT OP MONEY. 

Easy to keep out of debt ! ISTo, my young friend, it is diffi- 
cult. Are you rich? The bland tradesman cries, "Pay when 
you please." Your rents or your father's allowance will not 
be due for three months ; your purse, in the mean while, can 
not afford you some pleasant vice or some innocent luxury, 
which to young heirs seems a want ; you are about to relin- 
quish the vice or dispense with the luxury : a charming ac- 
quaintance, who lives no one knows how, though no one lives 
better, introduces an amiable creature, sleek as a cat, with 
paws of velvet hiding claws of steel ; his manners are pleasing, 
his calling — usury. You want the money for three months. 
Why say three ? Your name to a bill for six months, and the 
vice or the luxury is yours the next hour ! Certainly the easy 
thing here is to put your name to the bill. Presto ! you are 
in debt — the demon has you down in his books. 

Are you poor? Still your character is yet without stain, 
and your character is a property on Avhich you can borrow a 
trifle. But when you borrow on your character, it is your 
character that you leave in pawn. The property to you is 
priceless, and the loan that subjects it to be a pledge unre- 
deemed is — a trifle. 

Young friend, be thou patrician or plebeian, learn to say No 
at the first to thy charming acquaintance. The worst that the 
" No" can inflict on thee is a privation — a want — always short 
of starvation. No young man, with the average health of 
youth, need be in danger of starving. But, despite that priva- 
tion or want, thy youth itself is such riches that there is not a 
purse-proud old millionaire of sixty who, provided thy good 
name be unsoiled, would not delightedly change with thee. 
Be contented ! Say No ! Keep unscathed the good name, 
keep out of peril the honor, without which even yon battered 
old soldier, who is hobbling into his grave on half pay and a 
wooden leg, would not change with Achilles. 

Here I pause, seemingly to digress, really to enlarge the 
scope of my reasoning. In the world, around and without us, 
there are first principles which defy all philosophy. We may 
arrive with Newton at the law of gravitation ; there we stop. 
"We inquire no more," says Sir William Hamilton, "although 
ignorant now as previously of the cause of gravitation." 

But man in himself is a world ; and in man's moral organi- 
zation there are also first principles, on which the more we 



MAKAGEMENT OF MONEY. 65 

would dispute the more likely we are to be led astray. All 
things can be argued upon ; and therefore, if we so choose, we 
may be argued out of all things the best for us. There are 
some things for men and nations which it is safest never to 
submit to an argument. I would not, as an Englishman, per- 
mit trial by jury, or the right oi habeas corpus^ or the honor 
of the national flag, or the privilege of asylum to political ex- 
iles, to become open questions for the casuists of other lands 
to refine into ignorant prejudices on the part of my old-fash- 
ioned country. So, as a human being, in myself integral and 
independent — as sovereign in free-will as any state on earth, 
however niuuerous its citizens, however imperial its sceptre — 
there are certain things which I Avill not allow to be open ques- 
tions ; I assume them as indispensable to my own complete- 
ness of human being. I grant that a great deal may be said 
against them, as there may be against trial by jury and the 
honor of our flag ; but I have made up my mind to maintain 
and not to discuss them, not because I doubt that all hostile 
arguments could be triumphantly answered, but because I may 
not be such a proficient in casuistry as to be able to satisfy 
others, and in striving to do so I may unsettle in my own mind 
the foundations of all that I know to be both the temples and 
bulwarks of my existence as man. I will not consent to make 
open questions of aught Avithout which I should think it a 
mercy if I were hanged as a dog. I have read very subtle ar- 
guments against the probabilities that my frame holds a soul 
— that my present life involves a hereafter. I have read argu- 
ments no less subtle against the wisdom, and almost against 
the existence, of every conceivable virtue. I could quote 
pages by Avriters of no mean ability to show that common 
honesty is a vulgar error. So that, in fact, if I were to deliver 
up my whole self to the arbitrament of special jDleaders, to- 
day I might be argued into an atheist, and to-morrow into a 
pickpocket. Therefore I say to the young man about enter- 
ing life as a free agent, AVhenever you are tempted to do some- 
thing which you have been brought up by honest parents and 
teachers to know to be wrong, do not argue about it — you can 
at least hold your tongue. Without an argument you may 
commit the fault, repent, and atone it, because you have not 
frittered aAvay the conviction that you have done Avrong ; but 
if you once make the wrong an open question, and consent to 



66 MANAGEMENT OP MONEY. 

argue with perhaps a more practiced casuist thau yourself— 
his argument taking part with your temptation — then the 
chance is that you do more than a wrong thing ; that you do 
wrong upon philosophical system, and will very soon substi- 
tute custom for conscience. Never be argued out of your 
soul, never be argued out of your honor, and never be argued 
into believing that soul and honor do not run a terrible risk if 
you limp into life with the load of a debt on your shoulders, 
and, as the debt grows heavy and heavier, the hiss of some ly- 
ing fiend in your ear, " Shake it off; you need not be bank- 
rupt ; there is au alternative." " Oh heavens ! what alterna- 
tive, say !" and the fiend whispers low", suasive words — for the 
fiends argue well — suasive words which, put in plain English, 
mean this: "Be a cheat; be a swindler." 

Shake hands, brave young friend ; we are agreed. You 
consent to have horror of debt. You will abstain, you will 
pinch, you will w^ork harder, and harder, and harder, if need- 
ful. You will not slink through the crowd as a debtor. 

Now comes the next danger. You will not incur debt for 
yourself, but you have a friend. Pythias, your friend, your 
familiar — the man you like best and see most of — says to you, 
"Damon, be my security — your name to this bill !" Heaven 
forbid that I should cry out to Damon, "Pythias means to 
cheat thee — beware !" But I address to Damon this observa- 
tion: "Pythias asks thee to guarantee that three, six, or twelve 
months hence he will pay to another man — say to Dionysius — 
so many pounds sterling." Here your first duty as an honest 
man is not to Pythias, but to Dionysius. Suppose some acci- 
dent happen — one of those accidents which, however impossi- 
ble it may seem to your Pythias, constantly happen to the 
Pythiases of other Damons who draw bills on the bank of Futu- 
rity ; suppose that the smut or the rain spoil the crops on 
wdiich Pythias relies — or the cargoes he expects from iMar- 
seilles, California, Utojjia, go down to the bottomless seas — 
Dionysius must come upon you ! Can you pay to Dionysius 
what you pledge yourself to pay to him in sjoite of those acci- 
dents? He thinks those accidents not only possible, but prob- 
able, or he w^ould not require your surety, nor charge 20 per 
cent, for his loan; and, therefore, since he clearly doubts Pyth- 
ias, his real trust is in you. Do you merit tlie trust? Can 
you pay the money if Pythias can not? and, allowing that 



MANAGEMENT OP MONET. 67 

you cau pay the money, are your otlier obligations iu Hie such 
as to warrant that sacrifice to Friendship ? If you can not pay, 
or if you owe it to others more sacred than Pythias liiuiself — 
owe it to your parents, your phghted bride, or wedded wife, 
or the children to whom, what, before their birth, was your 
fortune, has become the trust-money for their provision — not 
to hazard for Pythias that for which, if lost, not you alone, but 
others must suffer, then, do not common duty and common 
honesty forbid you to become surety to Pythias for an obliga- 
tion Avhich it belongs not to Pythias, but to Chance to fulfill ? 
I am the last man to say, " Do not help your friend," if you 
honorably can. If we have money, Ave manage it ill when we 
can not help a friend at a pinch. But the plain fact is this : 
Pythias wants money. Can you give it, at whatever stint to 
yourself, in justice to others ? If you can, and you value Pyth- 
ias more than the money, give the money, and there is an 
end of it ; but if you can not give the money, don't sign the 
bill. Do not become Avhat, in rude truth, you do become — a 
knave and a liar — if you guarantee to do what you know that 
you can not do should the guarantee be exacted. He is gen- 
erous who gives ; he Avho lends may be generous also, but only 
on one condition, viz., that he can afford to give what he can 
afibrd to lend ; of the two, therefore, it is safer, friendlier, 
cheaper, in the long run, to give than to lend. Give, and you 
may keep your friend if yovx lose your money ; lend, and the 
chances are that you lose your friend if ever you get back your 
money. 

But if you do lend, let it be with the full conviction that the 
loan is a gift, and count it among the rarest favors of Provi- 
dence if you be ever repaid. Lend to Pythias on the under- 
standing, " This is a loan if you can ever repay me. I shall, 
however, make this provision against the chance of a quarrel 
between us, that if you can not repay me it stands as a gift." 

And whatever you lend, let it be your money, and not your 
name. Money you may get again, and, if not, you may con- 
trive to do without it ; name once lost you can not get again, 
and, if you can contrive to do without it, you had better never 
have been born. 

With honor, poverty is a Xoble; without honor, wealth is 
a Pauper. Is it not so ? Every young man not corrupted 
says "Yes." It is only sonte wretched old cynic, no dro]-> of 



68 MANAGEMENT OP MONEY. 

warm blood iu liis veins, who says, " Life is a boon without 
honor." 

But if a Jew knock at your door, and show you a bill with 
your name as a promise to pay, and the bill be dishonored, 
pray, what becomes of your name? 

"My name!" falters Damon; "I am but a surety — go to 
Pythias." 

"Pythias has bolted!" 

Pay the bill, Damon, or good-by to your honor ! 

Pardon my prolixity ; earnestness is apt to be garrulous. 
Vixi! I have lived and known life. And, alas ! what careers 
bright in promise I have seen close in jail or in exile ; what 
talents, profuse in their blossom, die off without coming to 
fruit; what virtues the manliest rot into vices the meanest, 
which, when one cried in amazement, " How account for so 
doleful an end to so fair a commencement ?" solve their whole 
their whole mystery in this: "Damon never recovered his first 
fatal error ; Damon put his name to a bill by which Pythias 
promised to pay so and so in three months." 

Having settled these essential preliminaries — 1st, N'ever to 
borrow Avhere there is a chance, however remote, that you 
may not be able to repay ; 2dly, Never to lend what you are 
not prepared to give ; 3dly, Never to guarantee for another 
what you can not fulfill if the other should fail — you start in 
life with this great advantage : whatever you have, be it little 
or much, is your own. Rich or poor, you start as a freeman, 
resolved to preserve in your freedom the noblest condition 
of your being as a man. 

Now fix your eyes steadily on some definite end iu the fu- 
ture. Consider well Avhat you chiefly wish to be ; then com- 
pute at the lowest that which you are by talent, and at the 
highest that which you can be by labor. Always underesti- 
mate the resources of talent ; always j^ut as against you the 
chances of luck. Then set down on the other side, as against 
talent defective, against luck adverse, all that which can be 
placed to the credit of energy, patience, perseverance. These 
last are infinite ; whatever be placed against them is finite ; 
you are on the right side of any system of book-keeping by 
double-entry on which a mortal may presume to calculate ac- 
counts with Fate. 

The finest epithet for genius is that which was applied to 



MANAGEMENT OF MONEY. 69 

Newton's genius, " patient." He who has patience, conpled 
with energy, is sure, sooner or later, to obtain the results of 
genius ; he who has genius without patience, and without en- 
ergy (if indeed such genius be a thing possible), might as well 
have no genius at all. His works and aims, like the plants of 
Nature before the Deluge, are characterized by the slightness 
of their roots. 

Fortune is said to be blind, but her favorites never are. 
Ambition has the eye of the eagle. Prudence that of the lynx ; 
the first looks through the air, the last along the ground. 

The man who succeeds above his fellows is the one who, 
early in life, clearly discerns his object, and toward that object 
habitually directs his powers. Thus,' indeed, even genius it- 
self is but fine observation strengthened by fixity of purpose. 
Every man who observes vigilantly and resolves steadfastly 
grows unconsciously into genius. 

Assuming that fortune be your object, let your first efiorts 
be not for wealth, but independence. Whatever be your tal- 
ents, whatever your prospects, never be tempted to speculate 
away, on the chance of a palace, that which you need as a pro- 
vision against the workhouse. Youth is too ajDt to exclaim, 
" Aut Ctesar aut nullus." But that saying was only for a Cce- 
sar; and even for him it was not a wise one. To a Cassar 
there should have been no yiut. Nemesis sighed "Aut nul- 
lus" when Caesar fell at the feet of the marble Pom2:)ey. 

A daring trader hazards the halter if he says " Rothschild or 
nothing ;" a philosopher will end as a charlatan if he says 
" Aristotle* or nothing;" a gentleman who says "Sir Philip 
Sidney or nothing" is on the eve of becoming a blackleg. 
The safe maxim is this: "The highest I can be, but on no ac- 
count — nullus." ^ 

Let your first care be, then, independence. Without pecun- 
iary independence you are not even intellectually free ; with 
independence, even though it be gained through some occupa- 
tion which you endure as a drudgery, still, out of the twenty- 
four hours, there will be always some hours for the occupation 
in which you delight. 

This observation applies in fullest force to aspirants in liter- 
ature. It is my cruel fate to receive no unfrequent communi- 
cations from youths whose calling is that of the counter, whose 
tastes are those of Parnassus ; and the pith of these unsolicit- 
ed communications is invariably this: 



70 MANAGEMENT OF MONEY. 

" I gain so many shillings a week by a vulgar and detestable 
trade ; but I have a soul above buttons. Read the MSS. I in- 
close. Do you not think there is some merit in them ? Could 
I not succeed as an author? I have had disadvantages to en- 
counter — so had Burns ! I can not boast of a scholastic edu- 
cation ; I have had very little leisure to educate myself; still" 
— et cetera, et cetera, all the et cetera involving the same ques- 
tion : " As I am unfit to be an apprentice, am I not fit to be an 
author ? Not having enough of human intelligence, persever- 
ance, and energy to excel as a hatter, a tailor, a butcher, a 
baker, may I not be a Walter Scott or a Byron ?" 

Useless — I solemnly warn all such contingent correspond- 
ents as may now be looming ominously among other unwel- 
come clouds that menace my few holiday hours — useless to 
apply to me. Be the specimens of genius under difiiculties 
thus volunteered to my eye good, bad, or indifferent, my an- 
swer, as an honest man, can be only this : "Keep to the calling 
that assures you a something out of which you may extract 
independence until you are independent. Give to that calling 
all your heart, all your mind. If I were hatter, or tailor, or 
butcher, or baker, I should resolve to consider my calling the 
best in the world, and devote to it the best of my powers. 
Independence once won, then be Byron or Scott if you can." 

Independence ! independence ! the right and the power to 
folloAV the bent of your genius without fear of the baillfi:' and 
dun should be your first inflexible aim. To attain independ- 
ence, so apportion your expenditure as to spend less than you 
have or you earn. Make this rule imperative. 1 know of 
none better. Lay by something every year, if it be but a shil- 
ling. A shilling laid by, net and clear from a debt, is a receipt 
in full for all clai*is in the past, and you go on with light foot 
and light heart to the future. " How am I to save and lay 
by ?" saith the author, or any other man of wants more large 
than his means. The answer is obvious: "If you can not in- 
crease your means, then yoiT must diminish j'our wants." 
Every skilled laborer of foir repute can earn enough not to 
starve, and a surplus beyond that bare sufficiency. Yet many 
a skilled laborer sufiers moi'e from positive privation than the 
unskilled rural peasant. "Why ? Because he encourages Avants 
in excess of his means. 

A man of £300 a year, living up to that income, truly com- 



MANAGEMENT OF MONEY. 71 

plains of poverty ; but if he live at the rate of £250 a year, he 
is comparatively rich. "Oh," says Gentility, "but I must 
have this or that, which necessitates the yearly £50 you ask 
me to save — I must be genteel." Why that must? That 
certain folks may esteem you? Believe me, they esteem you 
much more for a balance at your banker's than for that silver 
teapot or that mannikin menial in sugar-loaf buttons. "But," 
says Parental Afiection, "I must educate my boy; that £50 
saved from my income is the cost of his education." Is it so ? 
Can all the schoolmasters in Europe teach him a nobler lesson 
than that of a generous thrift, a cheerful and brave self-denial? 
If the o£50 be really the sum Avhich the boy's schooling needs, 
and you can spare nothing else from your remaining £250, still 
save and lay by for a year, and during that year let the boy 
study at home, by seeing how gladly you all are saving for 
him. Then the next year the schooling is the present M'hich 
you all — father, mother, and sister — by many slight acts of 
self-denial, have contrived to make to your boy. And if he be 
a boy of good heart, a boy such as parents so thoughtful near- 
ly always rear, he will go to his school determined to make up 
to you for all the privations which he has seen those he loves 
endure for his sake. 

Yoir may tell me that practically it comes to the same thing, 
for the school goes on, and next year yoix must equally pinch 
for the £50. True; but there is this mighty diflerence, you 
are a year in advance of the sum ; and, the habit of sa's'ing 
thus formed, you may discover something else that Avill bear 
a retrenchment. He Avho has saved for one year finds the se- 
curity, pleasure, and pride in it a luxury so great that his in- 
vention will be quickened to keep it. Lay by ! lay by ! "What 
makes the capital of nations ? Savings ; nothing else. Nei- 
ther nations nor men are safe against fortune unless they can 
hit on a system by which they save more than they spend. 
When that system is once established, at what a ratio capital 
accumulates ! What resources the system gradually develojis! 
In that one maxim is the secret of England's greatness! Do 
you think it mean to save more than you spend ? You do in 
that what alone gives your country its rank in the universe. 
The system so grand for an empire can not be mean for a citi- 
zen. 

Well, we have now added another rule to the canons pre- 



Y2 MANAGEMENT OF MONEY. 

scribed to the Management of Money : save more than yoa 
spend. Whatever your means be, so apportion your wants 
that your means may exceed them. Every man wlio earns 
but ten s])illings a week can do this if he please, whatever he 
may say to the contrary; for if he can live upon ten shillings 
a week, he can live upon nine and elevenpence. 

In this rule mark the eraj^hatic distinction between poverty 
and neediness. Poverty is relative, and therefore not ignoble; 
ISTeediness is a positive degradation. If I have only £100 a 
year, I am rich as compared Avith the majority of my country- 
men. If I have £5000 a year, I may be poor compared witli 
the majority of my associates, and very poor compared to my 
next-door neighbor. With either of these incomes I am rela- 
tively poor or rich ; but Avith either of these incomes I may be 
positively needy, or positively free from neediness. With the 
£100 a year I may need no man's help: I may at least have 
"my crust of bread and liberty." But with £5000 a year I 
may dread a ring at my bell ; I may have my tyrannical mas- 
ters in servants whose wages I can not pay ; my exile may be at 
the flat of the first long-sufl:ering man who enters a judgment 
against me ; for the flesh that lies nearest to ray heart some 
Shylock may be dusting his scales and Avhetting his knife. 
Nor is this an exaggeration. Some of the neediest men I ever 
knew have a nominal £5000 a year. Every man is needy Avho 
spends more than he has; no man is needy who S2:)ends less. 
I may so ill manage my money that, with £5000 a }'ear, I pur- 
chase the worst evils of poverty — terror and shame ; I may so 
well manage my money that, with £100 a year, I purchase the 
best blessings of Avealth — safety and respect. Man is a kingly 
animal. In every state which does not enslave him, it is not 
labor which makes him less royally lord of himself — it is fear. 

"Rex est qui metuit niliil, 
Et hoc regimm sibi quisqne det." 

Money is character — money also is power. I have power not 
in proportion to the money I spend on myself, but in pi-opor- 
tion to the money I can, if I please, give away to another. 
We feel this as we advance in years. How helpless is an old 
man who has not a farthing to give or to leave! But be 
moderately amiable, grateful, and kind, and, though you have 
neither wife nor child, you will never Avant a wife's tenderness 



MANAGEMENT OF MONEY. ^3 

nor a child's obedience if you have something to leave or to 
give. This reads like satire ; it is sober truth. 

But now we arrive at the power of money well managed. 
You have got money — you have it; and, with it, the heart, 
and the sense, and the taste to extract from the metal its uses. 
Talk of the power of knowledge ! What can knowledge in- 
vent that money can not purchase ? Money, it is true, can not 
give you the brain of the philosopher, the eye of the painter, 
the ear of the musician, nor that inner sixth sense of beauty 
and truth by which the poet unites, in himself, philosopher, 
painter, musician ; but money can refine and exalt your exist- 
ence witli all that philosopher, painter, musician, poet, accom- 
plish. That which they are your wealth can not make you, 
but that which they do is at the command of your wealth. 
You may collect in your libraries all thoughts which all think- 
ers have confided to books ; your galleries may teem Avith the 
treasures of art ; the air that you breathe may be vocal with 
music ; better than all, when you summon the Graces, they 
can come to your call in their sweet name of Charities. You 
can build up asylums for age and academies for youth. Pining 
Merit may spring to hope at your voice, and "Poverty grow 
cheerful in your sight." Money well managed deserves, in- 
deed, the apotheosis to which she was raised by her Latin 
adorers ; she is Diva Moneta — a goddess. 

I have said that he who sets out in life with the resolve to 
acquire money, should place clearly before him some definite 
object to which the money is but the means. He thus sweet- 
ens privation and dignifies thrift. Money never can be well 
managed if sought solely through the greed of money for its 
own sake. In aW meanness there is a defect of intellect as well 
as of heart. And even the cleverness of avarice is but the 
cunning of imbecility. 

The first object connected with money is the security for 
individual freedom — pecuniary independence. That once 
gained, whatever is surplus becomes the fair capital for repro- 
ductive adventure. Adhere but to this rule in every specula- 
tion, however tempting, preserve free from all hazard that 
which you require to live on without depending upon others. 

It is a great motive to economy, a strong safeguard to con- 
duct, and a wonderful stimulant to all mental power, if you 
can associate your toil for money with some end dear to your 

D 



14: MANAGEMENT OF MONEY. 

affections. I once knew a boy of good parts, but who seemed 
incorrigibly indolent. His father, a professional man, died 
suddenly, leaving his widow and son utterly destitute. The 
widow resolved to continue the education of her boy, however 
little he had hitherto profited by it — engaged herself as teacher 
at a school, and devoted her salary to her son. From that 
moment the boy began to work in good earnest. He saw the 
value of money in this world ; he resolved to requite his 
mother — to see her once more in a home of her own; he dis- 
tinguished himself at school ; he obtained, at the age of six- 
teen, an entry in a mercantile house. At the age of twenty 
his salary enabled him to place his mother in a modest sub- 
urban lodging, to which he came home every night. At the 
age of thirty he Avas a rich man, and, visiting him at his villa, 
I admired his gardens. He said to me, simply, " I have no 
taste for flowers myself, but my mother is passionately fond 
of them. I date my first step in life from my resolve to find 
her a home; and the invention in my business to which I owe 
my rise from clerk to partner could never have come into my 
brain, and been patiently worked out, if, night and day, I had 
not ttiought of my mother's deUght in flowers." 

A common motive with a young man is an honest love for 
the girl whom he desires to win as his wife. Nay, if no such 
girl yet has been met on the earth, surely she lives for him in 
the cloudland of Fancy. Wedlock, and wedlock for love, is 
the most exquisite hope in the innermost heart of every young 
man who labors ; it is but the profligate idlers who laugh at 
that sacred ideal. But it is only the peasant or mechanic who 
has the right to marry on no other capital than that which he 
takes from nature in sinews and thews. The man whose whole 
condition of being is in his work from day to day, must still 
have his helpmate. He finds his helpmate in one who can 
work like himself if his honest industry fail her. I preach to 
the day-laborer no cold homilies from political economy. The 
happiness and morality of the working class necessitate early 
marriages ; and for prudent provision against the chances of 
illness and death there are benefit clubs and societies, which 
must stand in lieu of jointure and settlement. But to men of 
a higher grade in this world's social distinctions. Hymen must 
generally contrive to make some kind of compromise with 
Plutus. I grant that your fond Amaryllis would take your 



MANAGEMENT OP MONET. 75 

arm to the altar, though you have not a coat to your back ; 
but Amaryllis may liave parents, who not unreasonably ask, 
" How, young Strephon, can you maintain our daughter ? and 
if your death demolish all those castles in the air which you 
are now building without brick and mortar, under what roof 
will she lay her head?" 

And suppose that no parents thus unkindly interpose be- 
tween Amaryllis and you, still it is a poor return to the disin- 
terested love of Amaryllis to take her, thoughtless child, at her 
word. Amaryllis proves her unselfish love ; prove yours, my 
friend Strephon. Wait — hope — strive — her ring is on your 
finger ; her picture, though it be but a villainous photograph, 
hangs by your bedside ; her image is safe in the innermost 
fold of your heart, "Wait till you can joyously say, " Come, 
Amaryllis, Plutus relaxes his frown ; here is a home which, 
if humble, at least is secure; and, if death suddenly snatch me 
away, here is no castle in air for my widow. Amaryllis shall 
never live upon alms !" 

How your love will deepen and strengthen in that generous 
delay ; and with your love, how your whole nature, mental and 
moral, w^ill deepen and strengthen ! Here, indeed, is an object 
for climbing the rough paths on to fortune ; and here the first 
friendly opposition of Plutus only serves to place upon surer 
foundations the blessings promised by Plymen. Constancy in 
love necessitates patience and perseverance in all efibrts for 
fortune ; and, with patience and perseverance, a man of fair 
average capacities is the master of fortune. 

But there are lesser objects than those I have defined as the 
most frequently coveted, which lend a charm to the making 
of money. 

It is a motive to economy, and a dissuasion from many prof- 
itless follies, to cherish early in life one favorite hobby, pro- 
vided the hobby be sound and well-bred. 

The taste for books, and the desire to collect them, are no 
mean tests of a school-boy's cai*eer as man. 

One of the most distinguished personages in Europe, show- 
ing me his library — which is remarkable for its extent and its 
quality (it was formed on the principle of including all works 
that treat, directly or indirectly, on the human mind, and thus 
necessarily includes almost every book worth reading) — said 
to me, " Not only this collection, but my social successes in 



76 MANAGEMENT OF MONEY. 

life, I trace back to the first franc I saved from the cake-shop 
to spend on the book-stall. When I was a young man, and 
received an invitation to a ball, not being then rich, I calcu- 
lated what it would cost me in kid gloves and coach-hire, and, 
refusing the ball, bought a book with the money. The books 
I bought I read ; the books I read influenced ray career." 
Perhaps this eminent person might have thought of the balls 
thus refused in his early youth when, being still young, he gave 
his own first ball as prime minister. 

But hobbies should be wives, not mistresses. It will not 
do to have more than one at a time. One hobby leads you 
out of extravagance ; a team of hobbies you can not drive till 
you are rich enough to find corn for them all. Few men are 
rich enough for that. 

In the management of money, there are some things we do 
for show — wisely if we can afford it. Money is station as well 
as character and power. 

In matters of show, it is better to have one decided success 
than fifty expensive failures. Better to have one first-rate pic- 
ture in a modest draAving-room than fifty daubs in a pompous 
gallery. Better to have one handsome horse in a brougham 
than four screws in a drag. Better to give one pleasant tea- 
party than a dozen detestable dinners. 

A man of very moderate means can generally afford one ef- 
fect meant for show, as a requisite of station, which, of its 
kind, may not be surpassed by a millionaire. Those who set 
the fashions in London are never the richest people. Good 
taste is intiaitive with some persons, but it may be acquired by 
all who are observant. In matters of show, good taste is the 
elementary necessity ; after good taste, concentration of pur- 
pose. With money as with genius, the wise master of his art 
says, " There is one thing I can do well ; that one thing I will 
do as well as I can." Money, like genius, is efiective in pro- 
portion as it is brought to bear on one thing at a time. Mon- 
ey, like genius, may comprehend success in a hundred things, 
but still, as a rule, one thing at a time ; that thing must be 
completed or relinquished before you turn to another. 

For a young man of a gentleman's station and a cadet's in- 
come, the only show needed is that which probably pleases 
himself the most — the eifect produced by his own personal 
appearance. Dress will therefore not unreasonably, and by no 



MANAGEMENT OF MONEY. 1^ 

means frivolously, demand some of his thoughts and much of 
his money. To the station of a young aspirant of fashion in 
the polite woi*ld, who is known not to be rich, it matters noth- 
ing what he pays for his lodging : he can always give his ad- 
dress at a club or hotel. No one cares how much or how lit- 
tle he pays for his dinner. No fine lady inquires if he calls at 
her house on foot or in a carriage. But society expects him 
to dress as much like a gentleman as if he were a young duke; 
and, fortunately, as young dukes nowadays do not wear gold 
lace and miniver, this is no unreasonable exaction on the part 
of society. A gentleman's taste in dress is, upon principle, the 
avoidance of all things extravagant. It consists in the quiet 
simj)licity of exquisite neatness ; but, as the neatness must be 
a neatness in fashion, employ the best tailor; pay him ready 
money, and, on the whole, you Avill find him the cheajDCSt. 

Still, if a young man of the gay world means to do the best 
that he can for his person, and really does obtain a certain 
rank or repute should it be only said of him that he is extreme- 
ly well dressed, he will remember that no man in great capi- 
tals, without pre-eminent claims of fortune, birth, or beauty, 
ever really finds a place in haut ton without some cultivation 
of mind. All the men I have ever known who have lifted 
themselves into authority in the inner circles of fashion have 
been men of considerable intellectual accomplishment. They 
have either had wit or humor to a fine degree, or admirably 
strong sense and judgment, or keen penetration into charac- 
ter ; they have been, from qualities far below the surface, either 
charming or instructive companions. 

Mere dandies are but cut flowers in a bouquet — once faded, 
they can never reblossom. In the drawing-room, as every 
where else, Mind in the long run prevails. And, oh well-boot- 
ed Achaian ! for all those substantial good things which money 
well managed commands, and which, year after year, as you 
advance in life, you will covet and sigh for, yon sloven, thick- 
shoed and with cravat awry, whose mind, as he hurries by 
the bow-window at White's, sows each fleeting moment with 
thoughts which grow not blossoms for bouquets, but corn- 
sheaves for garners, will, before he is forty, be far more the 
fashion than you. He is commanding the time out of which 
you are fading. And time, oh my friend, is money! time 
wasted can never conduce to money well managed. 



ESSAY VIII. 

In every good prose writer there will be found a certain 
harmony of sentence, which can not be displaced without in- 
jury to his meaning. His own ear has accustomed itself to 
regular measurements of time, to which his thoughts learn 
mechanically to regulate their march. And in prose, as in 
verse, it is the pause, be it long or short, which the mind is com- 
pelled to make, in order to accommodate its utterance to the 
ear, that serves to the completer formation of the ideas con- 
veyed ; for words, like waters, would run off to their own 
waste were it not for the checks that compress them. Water- 
pipes can only convey their stream so long as they resist its 
pressure, and every skilled workman knows that he can not ex- 
pect them to last unless he smooth, with care, the material of 
which they are composed. For reasons of its own, prose has 
therefore a rhythm of its own. 

But by rhythm I do not necessarily mean the monotonous 
rise and fall of balanced periods, nor the amplification of need- 
less epithets, in order to close the cadence with a Johnsonian 
chime. Every style has its appropriate music ; but without a 
music of some kind it is not style — it is scribbling. And even 
when we take those writers of the last century in whom the 
taste of the present condemns an overelaborate care for sound, 
we shall fi'nd that the sense which they desire to express, 
so far from being sacrificed to sound, is rendered with singu- 
lar distinctness ; a merit which may be reasonably ascribed, in 
great part, to the increased attention with which the mind re- 
volves its ideas in its effort to harmonize their utterance. For 
all harmony necessitates method; and the first principle of 
method is precision. 

In some exquisite critical hints on " Eurythmy," Goethe re- 



80 EHYTHM IN PROSE, AS CONDUCIVE 

marks, " that the best composition in pictures is that which, 
observing the most delicate laws of harmony, so arranges the 
objects that they by their position tell their own story." And 
the rule thus applied to composition iu painting, aj)plies no 
less to composition in literature. 

In metaphysical works, the writers most conspicuous for 
liarmony of style are those in whom the meaning is most clear 
from misconception. Thus Hume, the subtlest of all our met- 
aphysicians, is the one whose theories have been the least ob- 
scure to his commentators or disciples ; for his theories them- 
selves led him to consult, in " every combination of syllables or 
letters,"* that euj^hony which, by pleasing the ear (or, through 
sympathy, the eye that " runs over the book"), allures the at- 
tention of the mind, and, while it increases the lucidity of the 
author by the deliberation with which he selects his expres- 
sions, quickens the intelligence of the reader by the charm that 
lightens the fatigue of its tension ; whereas the meaning of 
Locke is often made needlessly difficult by the ruggeduess of 
his style, and many of the erroneous deductions which his fol- 
lowers have drawn from his system may be traced to the want 
of that verbal precision which a due culture of euphony seldom 
fails to bestow. 

Much has been said, with justice, against the peculiar modes 
of euphony elaborated by Johnson and Gibbon : too pompous 
and grandiose ; too remote from our homely vernacular : grant- . 
ed. But that does not prove the care for euphony to be a 
fault ; it only proves that the modes of euphony favored by 
those illustrious writers were too perceptibly artificial to be 
purely artistic. Yet no critic can say that Johnson and Gib- 
bon are obscure ; their meaning is much plainer than that of 
many a writer who prefers a colloquial diction. Xot only in 
spite of the fault, but because of the fault, we impute to their 
styles, Johnson and Gibbon are — Johnson and Gibbon. And 
if you reformed their rhythm to simpler modulations, accord- 
ant to your own critical canons, they would no more be John- 
son and Gibbon, than Pope and Gray would be Pope and Gray 
if you reconstructed the " Essay on Man" on the theories of 
Wordsworth ; or, by the ruthless excision of redundant epi- 
thets, sought, with Goldsmith, to improve the dirge of the 
" Elegy" into the jig of a ballad. 

* Hume, "Why Utility pleases." 



TO PEECISION AND CLEAKKESS. 81 

It is not, then, that rhythm should be cultivated only for the 
sake of embellishment, but also for the sake of perspicuity ; 
the culture of rhythm in prose defeats its own object, and re- 
sults in obscurity, if it seek to conceal poverty of thought by 
verbal decorations. Its uses, on the contrary, are designed for 
severe thinkers, though its charm may be insensibly felt by the 
most ordinary reader — its uses are based on the common-sense 
principle, that the more the mind is compelled to linger on the 
thought, the more the thought itself is likely to emerge, clear 
and distinct, in the words which it ultimately selects : so met- 
als, opaque in the mass, are made translucent by the process 
of solution. 

D2 



ESSAY IX. 

(^n Itijh irni Dittinn. 

Theee is a great distinction between the art of style and 
what the phrenologists call " the organ of language." In 
Jeremy Taylor, for instance, we are dazzled by the opulent 
splendor of diction with which the preacher comes in state to 
our souls. High-priest of eloquence, to his sacred tiara the 
many royalties of genius contribute the richest gems of their 
crowns. But no teacher of style would recommend as a safe 
model to his pupil the style of Jeremy Taylor. StUl more 
noticeable are the absolute command and the exquisite selec- 
tion of words in Sir Thomas Browne. Milton himself, in the 
" Lycidas" or " Comus," has scarcely a more curious felicity 
of phrase, a more dulcet arrangement of sound, than the " Es- 
say upon Urn Burial" displays in its musical prose. Yet who 
would contend that the style of Sir Thomas Browne was that 
of pure classical English? Attempt to imitate the "Urn 
Burial," and you fall into quaint affectation. 

I know not if any of his contemporaries, mighty prose writ- 
ers though they were, had, on the whole, so subtle and fine a 
perception of the various capacities of our language as the 
author of " Tristram Shandy." "With what finger — how light 
and how strong — he flies over the keys of the instrument! 
What delicate elegance he can extract from words the most 
colloquial and vulgate ; and, again, with some word unfamiliar 
and strange, how abruptly he strikes on the universal chords 
of laughter. He can play with the massive weights of our 
language as a juggler plays with his airy balls. In an age 
when other grand writers were squaring their periods by rule 
and compass, he flings forth his jocund sentences loose and at 
random ; now up toward the stars, now down into piiddles ; 
yet how they shine where they soai', and how lightly rebound 
when they fall ! But I should have small respect for the critic 



84 STYLE AND DICTION. 

who advised the youthful author to emulate the style of Sterne. 
Only Avriters the most practiced could safely venture an occa- 
sional, restrained imitation of his frolicsome zoneless graces. 

On the other hand, no praise of Addison's style can exag- 
gerate its merits. Its art is perfectly marvelous. No change 
of time can render the workmanship obsolete. His style has 
that nameless urbanity in which we recognize the perfection 
of manner — courteous, but not courtierlike ; so dignified, yet 
so kindly ; so easy, yet so high-bred. Its form of English is 
fixed — a safe and eternal model, of Avhich all imitation pleases 
— to which all approach is scholarship — like the Latin of the 
Augustan age. Yet I know not whether we could justly say 
that Addison possessed a very extensive command of lan- 
guage; certainly not a command equal to that of the writers 
I have just named. His jewels are admirably set, but they 
are not of the largest size, nor of the most precious water. 

Of Goldsmith we may say much the same. His idea of the 
beauties compatible with chastity of style was limited, but he 
realized his own idea with exquisite finish of execution. And 
there is no English writer, Addison alone excepted, to whose 
lucid periods, always elegant and never effeminate, a young 
man of genius, desiring to form a style attractive alike to 
scholars and the populace, should more sedulously devote his 
days and nights. 

But there are standards of heroic achievement which are 
seldom attained without many bold errors in the trial — errors 
not incurred by those who are contented with standards of 
less lofty elevation. We may guess at once where Goldsmith 
would fail in the rarer beauties of language when we find him 
rebuking the muse of Gray for that luxuriance of epithet which 
made its characteristic embellishment. From a treasury of 
poetic expression, enriched by a learning as copious as John- 
son's, and selected by a taste more com23rehensive than Gold- 
smith's, Gray extracted those jewels of phrase which render 
his verse original by the inimitable arrangement of its spoils. 
He is among poets what Cellini is among artists ; ornament is 
less the accessory grace than the essential merit of his designs. 

Lord Bolingbroke's Political Essays, and many of his letters 
in familiar correspondence, are often admirable alike for ar- 
rangement of style and richness of language. And his mode 
of composition is in singular accordance with the nature of his 



STYLE AND DICTIOiSr. 85 

subjects and the dignity of his station. He was a patrician 
statesman, and in treating of state affairs he speaks with au- 
thority, and not as the scribes: "Quodam modo, prse se ferens 
in dicendo nobilitatem suam."* His irony is majestic, his lam- 
entations are reserved and mascuUne. His graces of language 
are those which become an accomplished statesman. He is 
not a poet, and he takes from poets no ornaments obsolete or 
far-fetched. He assumes to be a man who has brought into 
active life the love of letters ; like the English friend of Rous- 
seau's St.Preux, "he has been conducted to philosophy through 
the path of the passions." His quotations and his images har- 
monize with the character he assumes. His similes and illus- 
trations are no wanton enrichments of fancy ; they support the 
argument they adorn, like buttresses which, however relieved 
with tracery, add an air of solidity to the building against which 
they lean, and, in leaning, prop. Withal, he has been a man 
of the world's hard business — a leader of party, a chief among 
the agencies by which opinion is moulded and action is con- 
trolled. And therefore, amid his natural stateliness, there is 
an absence of pedantry — a popular and genial elegance. His 
sentences flow loose as ifdisdainful of verbal care. Yetthrough- 
out all there reigns the senatorial decorum. The folds of the 
toga are not arranged to show off the breadth of the purple 
hem ; the wearer knows too well that, however the folds may 
fall, the hem can not fail to be seen. 

Perhaps the charm of Bolingbroke's writings is in some de- 
gree caused by the interest which it is impossible to refuse to 
the peculiarities of his character and the vicissitudes of his life 
— an interest to which his very errors contribute, as they do 
to that which the human heart so mournfully yields to the in- 
firmities of genius in Byron or Burns. 

In this English Alcibiades, what restless, but what rich vi- 
tality! We first behold him, like his Athenian prototype, 
bounding into life, a beautiful ambitious youth, seizing on no- 
toriety as a substitute for fame ; audacious in profligate excess 
— less, perhaps, from the riot of the senses, than from a wild 
joy in the scandal which singles him out for talk. Still but a 
stripling, he soon wrenches himself from so ignoble a corrup- 
tion of the desire for renown. He disappears from the haunts 
that had rung with the turbulent follies of a boy — he expends 
* Quintilian, in describing the oratory of Messala. 



8G STYLE AND DICTION. 

his redundant activity in travel — and learns the current lan- 
guage of Europe to so nice a perfection, that, in later life, Vol- 
taire himself acknowledges obligations to his critical knowl- 
edge of French. 

He returns to England, enters Parliament at the age of 
twenty-two, and wins, as it were with a bound, the fame which 
a free state accords to the citizen in whom it hails the sover- 
eign orator of his time. Nor of his own time alone. So far 
as we can judge by concurrent testimonies of great weight, 
Henry St. John was perhaps, in point of effect upon his audi- 
ence, the most brilliant and fascinating orator the English Par- 
liament ever knew ; Chesterfield, himself among the most ac- 
complished of public speakers, and doing full justice to Chat- 
ham, to whom he ascribes " eloquence of every kind," still 
commends Bolingbroke as the ideal model of the perfect ora- 
tor. And Chatham must have accepted as truthful the tradi- 
tions of his pi-ecursoi''s eloquence, when he said he would rath- 
er win back from oblivion Lord Bolingbroke's unreported 
speeches than Livy's lost books — an oj^inion indorsed by the 
severer taste of a yet higher authority, Chatham's son. 

And how soon all this splendor is obscured! Queen Anne 
dies, and the councilor of Queen Anne is denounced as a trai- 
tor to King George. What a scene for some high-bred nov- 
elist might be laid in the theatre itself the night in which 
Bolingbroke vanished from the town he had dazzled and the 
country he had swayed ! The playhouse is crowded ; all eyes 
turn to one box ; there sits serene the handsome young states- 
man whom, says Prior, " men respect and women love." 

Curious tongues whisper, "But what is really the truth? 
Is there any proof against him? It is said the articles of im- 
peachment are already drawn up ; the Whigs are resolved to 
have his head. Tut! impossible! See how gayly he smiles at 
this moment! Who has just entered his box — an express? 
Tut! only the manager. My lord has bespoken the play for 
to-morrow night." 

The curtain falls — falls darkly on an actor greater than any 
Burbage or Betterton that ever fretted his hour on the mimic 
stage. Where behind the scenes has my lord disappeared ? 
He is a fugitive on the sea. Axe and headsman are baffled. 
Where next does my lord reappear? At the playhouse in 
Paris. All eyes there, as in London, are fixed on the hand- 



STYLE AND DICTION. 8V 

some young statesman. And lo ! even there he is minister of 
state — distrusted, melanclioly minister of a crownless and tim- 
id Pretender ! He who gave Europe the Peace of Utrecht — 
he who had supphed ammunition and arms to Marlborough, 
is an exile in the court of the Bourbon, or rather in the mimic 
court of the Bourbon's pensioner, and plotting a buccaneer's 
foray on the shores of disdainful England. He has told us 
himself how soon that episode in his life came to a close ; and 
if the cause he had espoused was a wrong one, we may include 
his mistake in the general amnesty long ago granted to Jaco- 
bites. 

And now Alcibiades, in a new phase of multiform genius, 
affects to be Socrates himself. King George has set a price 
on his head, and he sits quietly down to show that that head 
is worth a much higher price than the letterless Guelph has 
offered for it. From his secluded chateau in France he sends 
forth that marvelous pamphlet which secured to the silenced 
orator his rank among the highest of contemj)oraneous writers.* 

This was, perhaps, really the happiest period of his life. 
Then, perhaps, he sincerely felt that august contempt for the 
gauds of ambition, which he labored hard, but with imperfect 
success, to sustain through the length of days yet in store for 
the passionate would-be Stoic, for then he first knew the calm 
of a virtuous and genial Home. A very early marriage had 
proved unfortunate, and the triumphs of his official career had 
been embittered by domestic dissensions. The death of his 
first wife, shortly after his exile, allowed him to form nuptials 
more auspicious. The second Lady Bolingbroke, a French- 
woman, appears to have been all that his heart had sought 
elsewhere in vain — accomplished, gentle, cheerful, tenderly de- 
voted to him. To this amiable woman, so far as we know, his 
fidelity never swerved. With that marriage end all the anec- 
dotes of his daring and lawless gallantry. And out of all the 
friends whom this once paramount chief of party had rallied 
round him, whom does he select to negotiate terms for his re- 
turn to his native shores ? What friend but the sweet second 
self? His trust is placed in the resolute heart and quick 
woman- wit of the faithful wife. Not the least interesting pas- 
sage in the romance of his checkered career is that where the 
plot of the drama shifts once more into court comedy. Lady 
* The Letter to Sir William Windham. 



88 STYLE AND DICTION. 

Bolingbroke, baffling all the shrewd arts of Sir Robert Wal- 
pole, entrapping the saturnine king with a golden bait set for 
the German gorgon who ruled him,* hastening back to her 
lord victorious, as Walpole, an hour too late, comes out of the 
royal closet foiled and discomfited. The Tories look up. The 
High-Church smooths its band with decorous delight. Woe 
to Walpole and the Whigs ! Lord Bolingbroke, 

" The Senate's darling and the Church's pride," 

can return to England. 

But Walpole is not so artless a spider as to be destroyed by 
a wasp, whatever its sting or its nippers. True, the wasp has 
broken one mesh of the web, but to that hole in the wall, where- 
in sits the spider despotic, the wasp never shall bring either 
nippers or sting. Lord Bolingbroke may return to England, 
but Lord Bolingbroke shall not re-enter the doors of Parlia- 
ment. The voice of Achilles must not be heard from the ram- 
parts on which his form reappears. Perhaps so signal a com- 
pliment was never yet paid to that eloquence by which Eu- 
ripides tells us great states can be overturned. f 

Lord Bolingbroke is now far advanced in middle age, but 
long years are yet before him. Lost to the Senate, his stately 
mournful image is seen distinct in the groves of Academe. He 
is still that " prodigy of parts" for whom the dark misanthropy 
of Swift softens into reverent afiection. He is still that " lord 
of the silver bow" from whom Pulteney borrows bis piercing 
shafts. He is still that " accomplished St. John" from whom 
Pope takes the theme and the argument of a poem unequaled 
in didactic solemnity and splendor, since Lucretius set to mu- 
sic the false creed of Epicurus. No Guelph and no Walpole 
can interdict genius from fame. But fame alone seldom com- 
forts the man who has trained his mind from youth to the pur- 
suit of power. 

* The Duchess of Kendal. The price paid to this lady for her good of- 
fices is said to have been £11,000. — Etough Papers. 

t Lord Bolingbroke's pardon passed the Great Seal in 1723. The bill 
which restored him to his title and estates passed in 1725. (Lady Boling- 
broke visited England a second time to negotiate for this object with Lady 
Harcourt and the Duchess of Kendal.) The attainder was, however, kept 
up, lest, as Bolingbroke writes, " so corrupt a member should come again 
into the House of Lords, and his bad leaven should sour that sweet untainted 
mass." 



STYLE AND DICTION. 89 

Throughout all Bolingbvoke's correspondence, though he 
seeks with no ignoble simulation to appear serene, his melan- 
choly is intense. To ambition excluded from its fair field of 
living action, the gardens of philosophy, like those of the Ho- 
meric spectre-land, are landscapes without a sun. 

But at last the sun itself, so radiant in the morn, so obscured 
in the noon and evening of his life, breaks faintly forth on eyes 
it can rejoice no more. Walpole at length has fallen. A new 
ministry is formed, to whom the attainted traitor is a patriot 
martyr. A new generation has arisen, for whom the errors 
of one w^hose works have charmed their taste, whose sorrows 
have moved their hearts, are merged in renown or atoned by 
penance. 

The Prince of Wales selects as liis political teacher and coun- 
cilor the man whose voice had been gagged, lest the throne 
of the Guelph should reel before the sound of its trumpet-peal. 
The sun rests upon slopes smoothed to the stride of ambition, 
if ambition has still heart and strength to renew the journey. 
But all the old man, weary and worn out, now needs from 
earth, are six feet of mould never lit by the sun ! 

The day that he sank into the grave, critics might have pre- 
dicted to his memory a popular and enduring honor among 
the names which adorn a nation ; for his political faults were 
those which friends could well contrive to palliate, and foes 
well afibrd to excuse. True, he had desired and had schemed 
to place a Stuart on the thi'one yet held by a Stuart, and to 
give to Anne a successor in her brother rather than in a Ger- 
man prince who could not speak a word of our language, and 
who has left us no cause to suspect that he ever said a wise or 
a good thing in his own. We are glad that in this Lord Bo- 
lingbroke failed ; we can all now acknowledge that the Avel- 
fare of England was best consulted by the exclusion of the 
former dynasty. But that Bolingbroke for a few months 
thought otherwise, is but to say that he thought with perhaps 
half his countrymen, since Walpole's only excuse for violating 
the Constitution by the Septennial Act, and suppressing opin- 
ion by corrupting its organs, is that, if England could Jiave 
spoken out, there Avould have been a cry loud enough to have 
rent the land in twain, of " God save the King — on the other 
side of the w^ater !" Bolingbroke's private errors in his earlier 
years had been long since canceled by manners unimpeacha- 



90 STYLE AND DICTION". 

bly pure since the date of his second mai-riage. All that was 
before the world in the writings he had published abounds in 
maxims as loftily moral as ever, under the Attic Portico, bade 
the soul take from Virtue an armor invulnerable to the shafts 
of Fortune. His political tenets were those which the sound- 
est thinkers of this day tacitly adopt. Nothing has ever yet 
been written more practically wise on the true interest of En- 
gland in her relations to foreign states than will be found in 
the numbers of the " Occasional Writer," which treat of " the 
Balance of Power ;" nothing more nobly liberal than the old 
Tory chief's eloquent plea for the popular principle of Parlia- 
mentary representation and the purity of election ever ema- 
nated from a Reform Committee. And at the day of his death 
he was confessedly the finest prose writer, both in thought and 
in form, that had yet devoted genius and learning to the wel- 
fare of party politics. But all these title-deeds to unquestion- 
able repute he himself destroyed as ruthlessly as the Stuarts 
he had once served had destroyed their own to a less enviable 
throne. He had written, in the spleen of compulsory leisure, 
and at an age when reason was weakened and imagination 
dulled, a long, tedious, pointless, nerveless essay, or rather bun- 
dle of essays, intended to advance the morality of Deism 
against the religion of Christianity. Pope, in the graceful epi- 
gram which compliments Chesterfield, had said, 
" Accept a miracle instead of wit, 
See two dull lines by Stanhope's pencil writ." 

But Bolingbroke, in his alignment against miracles, is chas- 
tised by a phenomenon that might have seemed a miracle in 
himself Not two lines, but four thick volumes, are writ by 
the hand of St. John, in which not one gleam of superior gen- 
ius is visible from the first page to the last. But perhaps the 
most singular feature of this poor performance is its extreme 
irresolution of purpose. In some passages the author lauds 
Christianity in terms as glowing as a Clarke or a Baxter could 
have used in its honor. He says, " No religion ever yet ap- 
peared in the world whose natural tendency was so much di- 
rected to promote the peace and happiness of mankind : if it 
has had a contrary effect, it has it apparently, not really," 
" Christianity is founded on the universal law of nature." 
" Christianity, genuine Christianity, is contained in the Gos- 
pels — it is the word of God ; it requires, therefore, our venera- 



STYLE AND DICTION. 91 

tion and a strict conformity to it." Here lie only seems about 
to imply a distinction between tbe Gospels and the other writ- 
ings in the New Testament ; yet elsewhere he reurges all that 
Deists have ever written against the authenticity of the Gos- 
pels as the word of God. 

But, whatever the sins of Bolingbroke's Deistical work, 
there is no evidence to show that he designed it for publica- 
tion — much evidence to favor the supposition that he never 
meant it to be published. 

Unfortunately, in his will he bequeathed to David Mallet 
the copyright of works, whether published or privately print- 
ed, enumerating them by name, and the copy of all his MSS., 
with the whole of his library. 

The Deistical essays are not mentioned in the will. It was 
said by those intimate with Bolingbroke that he had exacted 
from Mallet a promise that they should not be published. 
This Mallet denied ; but his character for veracity is not un- 
questionable. Bolingbroke himself, in a letter to Swift, and in 
allusion to these very essays, or at least to the opinions they 
embody, not only disclaims the notion of giving them to the 
public, but expresses himself with the indignation natural to a 
thoughtful statesman against the " esprit fort — in English, free- 
thinker" — whom he looks on as " the pest of society, because 
his endeavors are directed to loosen its bonds," and declares 
that he not only disowns, " but detests the character." It is 
probable enough that, as a politician, Bolingbroke would have 
shunned to publish the principles at which he had arrived as a 
metaphysician. And certainly such was the opinion of those 
who knew his mind the best — his relation Lady Ilarlington, 
and his friend Lord Cornbury. 

The last wrote feelingly and nobly to Mallet, entreating him 
to suppress certain criticisms of Church History whicli had ap- 
peared in the Letters on History. Mallet refused, and, bent 
on making the most money he could by his legacy, not only re- 
tained those criticisms, but published the MSS. which fastened 
on his patron's memory the very character that patron had 
emphatically declared that he not only disowned, but detested. 

Dull as this posthumous book unquestionably was, it did not 
less shock all sects of Chi'istians because uninviting to all class- 
es of readers. The design of the incendiary was sufficiently 
evident for odium, though it came out, upon trial, that his 



92 STYLE AND DICTION. 

match was too damp, and his powder too scanty, to enable him 
to scorch a beam of the building he had meant to burn down. 
A name which had just before been assoiled from each old re- 
proach, its claims on admiration denied by none, its titles to re- 
spect but feebly criticised by ousted placemen, became brand- 
ed by an attainder more withering than all which can be 
framed by the wit of lawyers, and signed by the hand of kings. 
And, naturally enough, Bolingbroke's bitterest revilers now 
were those who had been his warmest partisans before. He — 
the boast and pride of the Tories, their most eloquent chief, 
their most accomplished author — he to send forth from the 
tomb, over which they had wreathed their pious funereal gar- 
lands, a traitor's instruction to the common foe for the down- 
fall of that divine Acropolis, which was at once the temple of 
their worship and the strong-hold of their force ! Every sto- 
ry of his boyish excesses was revived ; every excuse for his 
political errors was ignored. And if to this day his very gen- 
ius is questioned, his very style hypercritically carped at, it is 
not from Avhat he did in his life, but for what— perhaps against 
his injunctions — an unscrupulous mercenary did on his behalf 
when his ears were closed to the voice of man's judgments. 

Horace Walpole, who, with his usual levity, calls Boling- 
broke's Metaphysical Divinity " the best of his writings," says, 
" As long as there are parsons, he will be ranked with Tindal 
and Toland. Nay," adds the slighter infidel, with his cynical 
sneer, " nay, I don't know whether my father won't become a 
rubric martyr for having been persecuted by him." 

We Christians may, however, afford nowadays, to Boling- 
broke at least, the same indulgence we accord to a less harm- 
less offense in Gibbon. Of Gibbon we have expurgated edi- 
tions for the perusal of families ; we need take little pains to 
expurgate the editions of Bolingbroke of his posthumous work; 
we defy it to do the least mischief. 

But, whatever the sins of the man or the defects of the writ- 
er, still, for every student of the age in which he stands forth 
surrounded by all the Muses, there is a fascinating interest in 
the name of St. John. And in reading his works, that ineffa- 
ble charm to which I have before referred as their special char- 
actei-istic is in some degree heightened by the spell which the 
author himself holds over us, as he held, in his own day, over 
minds so acute and so various as those of Pope and of Pulte- 
ney, of Chesterfield and of Swift. 



ST^XE AND DICTION. 93 

Still, the chief element of the charm is in the writing itself. 
Whatever our interest in the character and life of a man, he 
could not charm us in his writings if his writings themselves 
had no charm. Sir Philip Sidney and Sir Walter Raleigh ex- 
cite a personal interest, deeper, more unqualified, more endur- 
ing, and far more general, than that which we give to Boling- 
hroke. But their writings, though stamped with an equal 
genius, have not an equal charm. It is a labor to read through 
the "Arcadia," though it abounds with rare beauties of phrase 
and fancy ; or the " History of the World," though it has pas- 
sages matchless for masculine dignity of style. Once in our 
lives we may perform such task from a pious sense of the rev- 
erence due to England's worthies. Few repeat the dutiful 
but tedious ceremonial. But no lover of beautiful English can 
ever be contented to read only once " The Patriot King," 
"The Letter to Sir William Windham," " The Reflections upon 
Exile." Let the volume which contains those writings lie on 
the table amid the most popular books of the present day, and 
it will be chosen for the sake of renewed delight by any true 
man of letters. Or, should the lad fresh from college take it 
up for the first time, if there be any promise of author or 
statesman within him, his eye will soon sparkle and his cheek 
glow. 

Burke formed much of his own style from the study of 
Bolingbroke. Every reader knows that the " Vindication of 
IsTatural Society" was considered a felicitous imitation of 
Bolingbroke's manner, and on its first appearance ascribed by 
many to Bolingbroke himself. Indeed, Warburton has said 
that Burke never wrote so well as when he emulated Boling- 
broke ; a saying that, somewhat to my surprise, Dugald Stew- 
art approves, so far as it applies to style.* 

And in those maturer writings in which Burke attains a 
height far beyond the reach of his predecessor, there is still 
the trace of Bolingbroke's early influence. The periods re- 
tain certain peculiarities of musical cadence, a certain manner- 
ism in the conduct of argument, that remind us of the model 
on which the master has improved. Burke has not only far 

* "If on other occasions he has soared higher than in his 'Vindication 
of Natural Society,' he has nowhere else (I speak at present merely of the 
style of his composition) sustained himself so long upon a steady wing." — 
Dugald Stewart "On Taste," Essay III., chap. iv. 



94 STYLE AND DICTION. 

loftier qualities of mind than Bolingbroke — a knowledge of 
books, though not of men, more accurate, comprehensive, and 
profound — a reasoning more subtle, an imagination more splen- 
did—but this superiority in gifts and acquirements is accom- 
panied by an equal sui^eriority over Bolingbroke in the very 
beauties for which Bolingbroke is most remarkable. He ex- 
cels him in luxury and pomp of language ; he excels him in 
discipline and art of style. The most sovereign genius will be 
always that, whether in prose or verse, which unites in the 
highest degree the faculty of reasoning with the faculty of im- 
agination ; the most beautiful writing, either in prose or verse, 
will be that Avhich unites the logical arrangement that satis- 
fies our reason with the splendor of language that delights 
our imagination. And it appears to me that, in this felicitous 
union, we have no prose writer who is the equal of Burke.* 

Burke's command of style is so great that as by some he 
was mistaken for Bolingbroke, so by others he has been iden- 
tified with Junius, though perhaps no style can less resemble 
another than the loose sweep of Bolingbroke resembles the 
geometrical precision of Junius. Burke's language is so rich 
and bold in illustration, in imagery, in variations of rhythmical 
harmony, that it employs all the resources of poetry, while ad- 
hering, with very rare exceptions, to the laws which the ear 
and the taste assign to the lawful dominion of prose. But his 
excellence is that of the writer, not of the orator. In reading 
his speeches, the beauty of their composition will be felt in 
proportion as we forget that they Avere composed to be spoken. 
They are not framed according to the fundamental and neces- 

* In thus saying I am by no means insensible to Burke's occasional blem- 
ishes; nor do I deny altogether Dugald Stewart's assertion "that the de- 
fect was in his teste, which, left to itself, without the guidance of an acknowl- 
edged standard of excellence" (Dugald Stewart is referring here to Boling- 
broke as that standard), "appears not only to have been warped by some pe- , 
culiar notions concerning the art of writing, but to have been too wavering 
and versatile to keep his imagination and his fancy, stimulated as they were 
by an ostentation of his intellectual riches, and by an ambition of Asiatic 
ornament, under due control." But there is no writer who has not some 
faults, and faults of taste are perhaps those the most common to the highest 
and the lowest order of writers. The taste of Shakspeare and Milton is not 
always unimpeachable. But it is to the greatest writers that Adam Smith's 
exclamation applies — "How many great qualities must that writer possess 
who can thus render his very faults agreeable!" If we desire to find a 
writer without fault, we must not look for him among the greatest writers. 



STYLE AND DICTION. 96 

sary principles of effective oratory, but on the rules — which, 
as I have elsewhere said, are not only differing, but antago- 
nistic — that regulate the method of elaborate essay. The 
genius of oratory is more irregular and abrupt ; it is akin to 
that of the drama, inasmuch as it does not address men one 
by one, each in his quiet study, but a miscellaneous audience, 
which requires to be kept always verging toward that point 
at which attention relieves its pressure by the vent of involun- 
taiy applause. To move numbers simultaneously collected, 
the passions appealed to must be those which all men have 
most in common ; the arguments addressed to reason must be 
those which, however new or embellished, can be as quickly 
apprehended by men of plain sense as by refining casuists or 
meditative scholars. Elaborate though Cicero's orations are, 
they are markedly distinct in style from his philosophical pre- 
lections. The essayist quietly affirms a proposition ; the orator 
vehemently asks a question. "You say so and so," observes 
the essayist about to refute an oppenent. " Do you mean to 
tell us so and so?" demands the impassioned orator. The 
writer asserts that "the excesses of Catiline became at last in- 
supportable even to the patience of the Senate." " How long 
will you abuse our patience, Catiline?" exclaims the orator. 
And an orator who could venture to commence an exordium 
with a burst so audaciously abrupt, needs no other proof to 
convince a practical public speaker how absolute must have 
been his command over his audience. What sympathy in 
them, and what discipline of voice, manner, countenance in 
himself, were essential for the successful license of so fiery a 
burst into the solemnity of formal impeachment ! 

Oratory, like the Drama, abhors lengthiness ; like the Drama, 
it must keep doing. It avoids, as frigid, prolonged metaphys- 
ical soliloquy. Beauties themselves, if they delay or distract 
the effect which should be produced on the audience, become 
blemishes. Burke, from the very depth of his understanding, 
demands too great a tension of faculties little exercised by 
men of the world in general not to create fatigue in an assem- 
bly which men of the world compose. And his ornaments, 
which do not seem redundant when read, would appear in 
speech too artificial for that spontaneous utterance Avhich 
oratory, even when prepared, must condescend to simulate. 
Again, Burke wants that easy knowledge of every-day life 



96 STYLE AND DICTION. 

which is more or less essential to a popular public speaker. 
For each day, upon each question, there is something which 
the party he represents wishes to have said — a something 
which it would have been a rashness to say yesterday, will be 
a platitude said to-morrow; but said to-day, has a pertinent 
wisdom that may turn the scales of debate. Now the true 
orator, however aiming at immortality, must not neglect the 
moment ; for he who speaks what the moment needs is elo- 
quent without effort. But Burke knew little of what was said 
at the clubs, and what it was all-important should be said in 
Parliament at the right time. And what he might know of 
such popular common-sense matters, and deign to repeat in bis 
own way, he would so transform in the re-creating process of 
his glowing intellect, that not one man in a hundred would 
have muttered, "That's my thought — how clearly he puts it!" 

We see in this the contrast between Burke and Fox. Fox 
studies far more diligently than is generally supposed, in the 
quiet of his bedroom, which he does not leave till noon. But 
he then has his levee of gossiping partisans : he hears all that 
the town says — all that his party thinks it would be useful to 
say ; and the facts or reflections his mind has already stored 
are at prompt service for the immediate want. Burke comes 
to join him just in time for the debate, weary, as he himself 
complains, of the forenoon's mental labor, and so little in sym- 
p.athy with the humors and passions of the time and place, 
that, when he rises to speak, a matter-of-fact partisan plucks 
him by the coat-tail with an imploring entreaty to hold his 
tongue. 

That Burke was no popular speaker in Parliament, except 
upon those rare occasions when all considerations of mere 
taste give way to the desire to hear what a first-rate intellect 
has to say upon matters that vitally affect the state, must be 
ascribed far more to the matter of his speeches than his per- 
sonal defects as a speaker. It may be very true that he had 
an untunable voice — a strong brogue — an ungainly gesture ; 
but I think I can cite proof sufficient to show that Burke's de- 
livery^ in spite of its defects, was that of an orator — that is to 
say, it was a delivery which increased,^ not diminished, the ef- 
fect of his matter. Mr. Fox, in the last motion he ever made 
in the House of Commons, thus, in words which have escaped 
the notice of those who have discussed the question of Burke's 



STYLE AND DICTION. 97 

merits as an orator, refers to a si^eech of Burke's upon the 
abolition of negro slavery: "It was, perhaps, the most brilliant 
and convincing speech ever delivered in this or any other place 
by a consummate master of eloquence, and of which, I believe, 
there remains in some publications a report that will convey 
an inadequate idea of the substance, though it would be im- 
possible to represent the manner — the voice, the gesture, the 
manner, was not to be described — 0, si ilium, audisse, si ilium 
vidisse !"* 

Now, as many must then have been present, by whom Burke's 
delivery Avould have been familiarly known, it is clear that a 
man of Fox's sound taste and sense would never have indulged 
in a compliment, not only to the matter, but still more emphat- 
ically to the manner of the departed statesman, had it not been 
recognized as truthful. If the matter had been really marred 
by the defects of delivery, Fox's cordial praise would have 
seemed a malignant irony. In fact, the House of Commons is 
.an audience that is very soon reconciled to mere jDersonal de- 
fects. It is the triumph of an impassioned and earnest speaker 
to overcome all hostile impressions on eye and car which at 
first interpose between his mind and his audience. Fox's ges- 
ticulation was extravagant and graceless ; his articulation, in 
spite of lengthened practice, was so indistinct, that he himself, 
in one of his latest speeches, observes that no reporter could 
catch his words with sufficient accuracy for faithful report. 
Yet I doubt not that, though indistinct in the gallery, he con- 
trived to make himself very intelligible to the House. The 
late Mr. Shell had ahnost every defect Avhich tradition ascribes 
to Burke ; an unmistakable brogue — a voice so shrill that its 
tones were compared to daggers of splintered glass; while, in 
spite of its shrillness, the ear Avas laboriously strained to dis- 
tinguish the sense of the sound that shivered as it struck on 
the tympanum. His action was that which in itself is most 
distasteful to an audience that abhors the theatrical ; it was 
theatrical, and theatrical to excess. Yet Shell was surpassed 
by none of our time in his immediate effect upon the House 
of Commons. He dazzled and fascinated an attention always 
eager, sometimes breathless. If his effects were transient — if 
the quality of the effects was not equal to the degree — it was 

* On the Abolition of the Slave-Trade, June 10, 1806. Fox's Speeches, 
vol. vi., p. 662. 

E 



98 STYLE AXD DICTION". 

not because of his voice and gestures. His deficiencies as an 
orator, whatever they might be, were intellectual ; the phys- 
ical deficiencies he redeemed — they were forgotten while he 
spoke. But Mr. Shell's speeches were composed, not upon 
literary, but oratorical principles. It was the form in which 
he cast his thoughts that made him an orator of mark, beyond 
the standard of his political knowledge and his intellectual 
capacities, as it was the form in which Burke cast his thoughts 
that forbade him to gain, save on rare occasions, that sover- 
eign ascendency over his audience, which, by political knowl- 
edge and intellectual capacities, was his unquestionable right. 
Any young man with the ambition to become a public speaker 
can test for himself the truth of my remarks. Let him take 
up one of Pitt's or Fox's speeches on the French Revolution. 
They are very badly reported, but enough of the original re- 
mains to show the mode in which those masters of the art of , 
oratory conducted the argument they severally adv;mced. 
Let him declaim aloud, to any circle of listeners, some of the 
more animated passages in those mutilated harangues ; and if 
he can declaim tolerably well, he will perceive at once that he 
is speaking as parliamentary orators sj^eak — that the efifects 
require no histrionic skill of delivery; they are palpable — 
popular ; the sense is easily uttered and quickly understood, 
and will even at this day excite a certain sensation in listen- 
ers, because it embodies elementary differences of opinion, and 
places those differences in the light and the warmth of the 
broadest day. Let him then try to speak aloud one of those 
grand essays which are called Burke's Speeches, and he will 
soon find the difficulty of suiting phraseology so uncolloquial, 
and reasoning so refined, to the tone and gesture of a practical 
debater. They Avould require a deliveiy as skillful as that 
which the more metaphysically thoughtful or the more ab- 
stractedly poetic passages of Shakspeare require in an actor, 
in order to conciliate the imagination to an involuntary jar 
upon the reverence with which, in reflective stillness, we have 
been accustomed to ponder over oracles so subtle, conveyed 
from penetralia so remote. It is the same with many famous 
works in didactic or moralizing poetry, which a person of ordi- 
nary refinement will peruse, when alone, with pleasure, but 
which become wearisome when read aloud ; whereas other 
works akin to the drama, and therefore to oratory, may please 



STYLE AND DICTION. 99 

and impress more wlien spoken than they do when perused 
in the closet. The " Death of Margiion," or " Lord UlUn's 
Daughter," ahiiost requires to be recited in order to be fully 
appreciated. Bat who would wish to hear recited the "Ex- 
cursion," or the " Essay on Man ?" 

It is more than doubtful whether Burke himself ever spoke 
his speeches as they are now printed. They were carefully 
revised for publication, and revised in order to be perfect lit- 
erary compositions — filed from the roughness, and elaborated 
from the haste of oral utterance ; and, therefore, it is as liter- 
ary compositions that they seem to me to deserve our rever- 
ential praise and requite our impassioned study — models as no- 
bly instructive to the young writer as they would be fatally 
injurious to the j'oung orator. 

To close these remarks, it is according to the nature of the 
author's work that we should more or less give the preference 
to richness of language or to concinnity of style. 

In Avritings that treat of the ordinary business of life, or 
seek to explain rather than suggest, symbolize, or depict some 
selected truth, we naturally prefer a style compact and lucid, 
dispensing with a pomp of words which would be an ostenta- 
tion impertinent to the simplicity of'the occasion. On the 
other hand, in those classes of composition which are more or 
less generic to poetry, inasmuch as they are chiefly addressed 
to the imagination, and through the imagination wind their 
way to the reason, a style of architectural structure, Avith all 
its proportions measured by an inch scale, would be destruct- 
ive to the effects which the writer desires to produce. To en- 
list the imagination on your side, you must leave it free to im- 
agine for itself. 

When we Avant practically to build a dwelling-house, let the 
builder show us his plan in plain geometrical outlines. "SYe 
suspect that there is something Avrong in his construction, that 
there is some defect which he desires to conceal, when he adds 
to his drawing the hues of a sunset, or dips the unsightly of- 
fice-wing into the pleasant gloom of an imaginary grove. But 
Avhen we Avish rather to see on the canvas some ancient le- 
gendary castle, some illustration of scenes which lieroes have 
trodden or poets have sung, then we Avillingly lend ourselves 
to the beautifying art by Avhich the painter harmonizes reality 
to our OAvn idealizing preconceptions ; then the thunder-cloud 



100 STYLE AND DICTION. 

may rest upon the ruined battlements, then the moonhght may- 
stream through the gapijjg fissures, or, then, the landscapes of 
Spenser's Fairyland may take a Nature of their own, never 
seen on earth, yet faithful to our dreams, as they rise from the 
pallet of Turner in the gloiy of golden haze. 

Thus, in the literature of romance, we must admit to crea- 
tive prose a license analogous to that which we accord to cre- 
ative verse ; for Romance, though its form be in prose, does in 
substance belong to poetry, obey the same conditions, and ne- 
cessitate the same indulgence. 

Nor is it in fiction alone (wherein audacity in the resources 
of poetic diction is obviously jirojiortioned to the degree in 
which that fiction approaches or recedes from, the poetic as- 
l}eci& of life) that we are compelled to relax severe canons as 
to the mechanism of style, if we would leave free play to the 
higher delight derivable from luxury and glow of language. 
There are subjects which can only be rescued from triteness 
by showing those more latent phases of the Material that rest 
half hid amid types and parables of the Spiritual. When Jer- 
emy Taylor discourses on Marriage, what new and endearing 
light the preacher throws upon the sacred mystery of the in- 
dissoluble bond by words and images that exact from our 
taste the license it accords to the poet ! And there is many a 
truth — Avhether found hourly by the side of crowded thor- 
oughfares, or in shadowy dingles and forest deeps unpenetra- 
ted by the star — which we may enable science to classify more 
accurately, and the common reader to comprehend more plain- 
ly, if, instead of dry speculation on its botanical attributes, we 
place in our page the form and the colors of the flower. 

Nor, where the imagination of the author has wealth sufii- 
cient to render display an appropriate evidence of riches, and 
not the artifice of the impostor seeking to disguise his pover- 
ty, need we fear that the substance of good sense will be 
slighter for the delicate arabesques which may give to a thing 
of use the additional value of a work of art. On the contrary, 
the elegance of the ornament not unfrequently attests the 
stoutness of the fabric. Only into their most durable tissues 
did the Genoese embroiderers weave their delicate threads of 
gold; only on their hardest steel did the smiths of Milan dam- 
askeen the gracious phantasies which still keep their armor 
among the heir-looms of royal halls, and guide tlie eye of the 



STYLE AND DICTION. 101 

craftsman to numberless fresh applications of former art, 
though the armor itself be worn no more. The Useful passes 
away, with each generation into new uses. The Beautiful re- 
mains a fixed unalterable standard of value, by which the 
Useful itself is compelled to calculate the worth of its daily la- 
bors. 



ESSAY X. 

In the high-wrought state of civilization at which wo are 
arrived, few complaints are more common than that of a brain 
overworked. This complaint is not confined to authors and 
students ; it extends to all who strive for name or fortune 
against eager and numerous competitors. The politician, the 
professional man, the merchant, the sjDeculator — all must ex- 
perience that strain of special faculties in the direction toward 
special objects, out of which comes nervous exhaustion, with 
the maladies consequent on overstimulus and prolonged fatigue. 
Horace is a sound jiathologist when he tells us that, after 
Prometheus had stolen fire from heaven, a cohort of fevers, 
unknown before, encamped themselves on earth. In our au- 
dacious age we are always stealing new fire, and swelling the 
cohort of fevers with new recruits. The weary descendant of 
lapetns droops at last — the stolen fire begins to burn low — 
the watchful cohort pounces on its prey. The doctor is sum- 
moned, hears the case, notes the symptoms, and prescribes — 
repose. 

But repose is not always possible. The patient can not stop 
in the midst of his career — in the thick of his schemes. Or, 
supposing that he rush off to snatch a nominal holiday from 
toil, he can not leave Thought behind him. Thought, like 
Care, mounts the steed and climbs the bark. 

A brain habitually active will not be ordered to rest. It is 
nothke the inanimate glebe of a farm, Avhich, when exhausted, 
you restore by the simple precept, "Let it lie fallow." A 
mind once cultivated will not lie fallow for half an hour. If a 
patient, habituated to reflection, has nothing else to meditate, 
his intellect and fancy will muse exclusively over his own ail- 
ments — muse over a finger-ache, and engender a gangrene. 
What, then, should be done ? Change the occupation, vary 



104 HINTS ON MENTAL CULTURE. 

the culture, call new organs into play ; restore the equilibrium 
deranged iu overweighting one scale by Aveights thrown into 
another. 

In therapeutic gymnastics, Ave strengthen one set of muscles 
hitherto little called into play, in order to correct the tenden- 
cies to a malady Avhich the fatigue of another set of muscles 
has induced. What is thus good for the bodily health, I hold 
to be yet more good for the Avhole mental develojijment of man. 
Mrs. Somerville has written a charming and popular book on 
"The Connection of the Sciences;" but it is not only the sci- 
ences Avhich have a family kinship; all the faculties and all the 
acquisitions of the human intellect are relations to each other: 
The true chief of a clan never disowns remote affinities; the 
Avider his clanship, the greater his jDOAver : so it is Avith a true 
genius ; the more numerous its clansmen, the higher its dig- 
nity of chief. If there be some one specialty in art, literature, 
science, active life, in which Ave can best succeed, that specialty 
is improved and enriched by all the contributions obtainable 
from other departments of stiidy. Kead the treatises on Ora- 
tory, and you stand aghast at the wondrous amount of infor- 
mation Avhich the critical authorities assure you is necessary 
for the accomplishment of a perfect orator. But you may say 
that, according to the proverb, the orator is made; the poet is 
born. Read, then, the works of any really first-rate poet, and 
you Avill acknoAvledge that there Avas never a more delusive 
lie than that wdiich the proverb instills into the credulous ears 
of poetasters. It is the astonishing accumulation of ideas, cer- 
tainly not inborn, but acquired alone through experience and 
study, which makes the most prominent characteristic of a 
first-rate poet. His knowledge of things, apart from the mere 
form of poetry, strikes you more than his melodies as a poet. 
Surely it is so with Homer, Lucretius, Virgil, Horace, Dante, 
Shakspeare, Milton, Goethe, Scott. Certainly it need not al- 
Avays Avith the poet be knoAvledge of books, but it is knoAvledge 
of man or of nature, only to be obtained by exerting organs 
of mind wholly distinct from those which are required to fab- 
ricate a rhythm and invent an expression. "Whatever our in- 
tellectual calling, no kind of knowledge is antagonistic to it. 
All varieties of knowledge blend Avith, harmonize, enrich the 
one kind of knowledge to Avhich Ave attach our reputation. 

Frequently Ave meet with a Avriter Avho achieves one re- 



HINTS ON MENTAL CULTCEE. 105 

markable book, and whatever other books he writes are com- 
parative failures — echoes of the same thought, repetitions of 
the same creations. The reason of that stint of invention is 
obvious; the author has embodied certain ideas long medita- 
ted; and if his book be really great, all the best of those ideas 
are poured into it. In the interval between that book and the 
next, he has not paused to ponder new studies and gather from 
them new ideas, and the succeeding books comprise but the 
leavings of the old ideas. 

A man of genius is inexhaustible only in proportion as he is 
always nourishing his genius. Both in mind and body, where 
nourishment ceases vitality fails. 

To sail round the world, you must put in at many liarbors, 
if not for rest, at least for supplies. 

To any young author of promise, in the commencement of 
his career, my advice is this : Till you have succeeded in work- 
ing out your conception, persevere in that one conception; 
work it out. When you have succeeded — exhausting the best 
ideas that wont to its completion — take care not to repeat the 
same experiment. Adventure some experiment wholly new ; 
but, before you so adventure, be sure that yoii have taken in 
wholly new ideas. 

The wider your range of thought, the greater your chance 
and choice of original combinations. 

The writer who adopts this counsel is vulgarly called " ver- 
satile." That is a misnomer. It is not that Genius is versa- 
tile because the objects within its scope are various. If you 
have twenty thousand a year instead of one thousand, you are 
not versatile because you do a great many things which a man 
of a thousand a year can not do. 

According to the axioms in optics, " we see every thing by 
means of the rays of light which proceed from it." The eye 
is not versatile because it is sensible to the rays of light from 
more things than one. 

Again, in optics, " we see every thing in the direction of 
that line in Avhich the rays approach the eye last." Genius is 
not versatile because, in the sweep of its swift survey it sees 
each thing in the direction of the line in which the rays ap- 
l^roach last to its view. 

He who is always observant will be always various. 

But in my recommendation to seek less in repose of thought 

E2 



100 HINTS OX MENTAL CULTURE. 

(which is scarcely possible to the thoughtful) than in change 
of the objects of thought (which to all thinkers is jjossible), 
the safety from ovei*fatigue and exhaustion, mental and bodily, 
I do not address only the children of Genius, who will take 
their own way, with small heed of what critics may say to 
them — I appeal to all sober mortals who, whatever their career 
or their calling, wish to make the most of themselves in this 
multiform trial of life. 

We are not sent here to do merely some one thing, which 
we can scarcely suppose that we shall be required to do again, 
"when, crossing the Styx, we find ourselves in eternity. Wiieth- 
er I am a painter, a sculptor, a poet, a romance writer, an es- 
sayist, a politician, a lawyer, a merchant, a hatter, a tailor, a 
mechanic at factory or loom, it is certainly much for me in this 
life to do the one thing I profess to do as well as I can. But 
when I have done that, and that thing alone, nothing more, 
"where is my profit in the life to come ? I do not believe that 
I shall be asked to paint pictures, carve statues, write odes, 
trade at Exchange, make hats or coats, or manufacture pins 
and cotton prints, when I am in the Empyrean. Whether I 
be the grandest" genius on earth in a single thing, and that sin- 
gle thing earthy, or the poor peasant who, behind his plow, 
whistles for want of thought, I strongly suspect it will be all 
one when I joass to the Competitive Examination — yonder ! 
On the other side of the grave a Rafiaelle's occupation may be 
gone as well as a plowman's. This world is a school for the 
education, not of a faculty, but of a man. Just as in the body, 
if I resolve to be a rower, and only a rower, the chances are 
that I shall have, indeed, strong arms, but weak legs, and be 
stricken with blindness from the glare of the w^ater ; so in the 
mind, if I care but for one exercise, and do not consult the 
health of the mind altogether, I may, like George Moreland, 
be a wonderful painter of pigs and pig-sties, but in all else, as 
a human being, be below contempt — an ignoramus and a 
drunkard ! 

We men are not fragments — we are wlioles ; Ave are not 
types of single qualities — we are realities of mixed, various, 
countless combinations. 

Therefore I say to each man, "As far as you can — partly for 
excellence in your special mental calling, principally for com- 
pletion of your end in existence — strive, while improving your 



HINTS ON MENTAL CULTCTEE. 107 

one talent, to enrich your whole capital as Man. It is iai this 
way that you escape from that wretched narrow-mindedness 
which is the characteristic of every one who cultivates his spe- 
cialty alone : Take any specialty ; dine with a distinguished 
member of Parliament — the other guests all members of Par- 
liament except yourself — you go away. shrugging your shoul- 
ders. All the talk has been that of men who seem to think 
that there is nothing in life worth talking about but the party 
squabbles and jealousies of the House of Commons. Go and 
dine next day with an eminent author — all the guests authors 
except yourself. As the wine circulates, the talk narrows to 
the last publications, with, now and then, on the part of the 
least successful author present, a refining eulogium on some 
dead writer, in implied disparagement of some living rival. 
He wants to depreciate Dickens, and therefore he extols Field- 
ing. If Fielding were alive and Dickens were dead, how he 
would extol Dickens ! Go the third day ; dine with a trader 
— all the other guests being gentlemen on the Stock Exchange. 
A new specialty is before you ; all the world seems circum- 
scribed to scrip and the budget. In fine, whatever the calling, 
let men only cultivate that calling, and they are as narrow- 
minded as the Chinese when they place on the maj) of the 
world the Celestial Empire, witli all its Tartaric villages in full 
detail, and out of that limit make dots and lines, with the su- 
perscription, "Deserts unknown, inhabited by barbarians !" 

Nevertheless, you are not Avise if, dining with any such 
hosts, you do not carry away from the talk you have heard 
something of value that you could not otherwise have gained. 
The circle of life is cut u]) into segments. All lines are equal 
if they are drawn from the centre and touch the circumference. 

Every man of sound brain whom you meet knows some- 
thing Avorth knowing better than yourself. A man, on the 
whole, is a better preceptor than a book. But what scholar 
does not allow that the dullest book can suggest to him a new 
and a sound idea ? Take a dull man and a dull book ; if you 
have any brains of your own, the dull man is more instructive 
than the dull book. Take a great book, and its great author ; 
how immeasurably above his book is the author, if you can 
coax him to confide his mind to you, and let himself out ! 

What would you not give to have an hour's frank talk Avith 
Shaksj)eare, if Shakspeare Avere noAV living? You can not 



108 HINTS ON MENTAL CULTUEE. 

think of yourself so poorly as not to feel sure that, at the end 
of the hour, you would have got somethiug out of him which 
fifty years' study would not suffice to let you get out of liis 
plays. Goldsmith was said by Garrick to " write like an an- 
gel and talk like poor Poll." But what does that prove ? 
nothing more than this, that the player could not fathom the 
poet. A man who writes like an angel can not always talk 
like poor Poll. That Goldsmith, in his peach-colored coat, 
awed by a Johnson, bullied by a Boswell, talked very foolish- 
ly, I can well understand ; but let any gentle reader of human 
brains and human hearts have got Goldsmith all to himself 
over a bottle of Madeira, in Goldsmith's own lodging — talked 
to Goldsmith lovingly and reverentially about " The Traveller" 
and "The Vicar of Wakefield," and sure I am that he would 
have gone away with the conviction that there was something 
in the wellspriug of so much genius more marvelous than its 
diamond-like spray — something in poor Oliver Goldsmith im- 
measurably greater than those fixint and fragmentary expres- 
sions of the man which yet survive in the exquisite poem, in 
the incomparable novel. 

I remember being told by a personage Avho was both a very 
popular writer and a very brilliant converser, that the poet 
Campbell reminded him of Goldsmith — his conversation was 
so inferior to his fame. I could not deny it ; for I had often 
met Campbell in general society, and his talk had disappointed 
me. Three days afterward Campbell asked me to come and 
sup with him teie-d-tete. I did so. I went at ten o'clock. I 
staid till dawn ; and all my recollections of the most spark- 
ling talk I have ever heard in drawing-rooms, afford nothing 
to equal the riotous affluence of wit, of humor, of fancy, of gen- 
ius, that the great lyrist poured forth in his wondrous mono- 
logue. Monologue it was ; he had it all to himself. 

If the whole be greater than a part, a whole man must be 
greater than that part of him M'hich is found in a book. 

As we vary our study in books, so we should vary our study 
in men. Among our friends and associates we should have 
some whose pursuits differ from our own. Nothing more con- 
duces to liberality of judgment than facile intercourse with va- 
rious minds. The commerce of intellect loves distant shores. 
The small retail dealer trades only with his neighbor ; when 
the great merchant trades, he links the four quarters of the 



HINTS OX MEJTTAI. CULTURE. 109 

globe. Above all, maiutaiu acquaiutanceship with those who 
represent the common sense of the time in which you live. 
"It is a great thing," said Goethe, "to have something in com- 
mon with the commonalty of men." We should know little 
of our age if we lived only with sages. On the other hand, we 
should never be above our age if we did not now and then 
listen to sages. 

This is a busy world ; never deem yourself superior to what 
Bacon calls "the wisdom of business." If your pursuits take 
you somewhat aside from the practical aflairs of life — if you 
are a poet, a scholar, an artist — it is the more necessary that 
you should keep yourself wide awake when you deal with a 
tradesman or look into your accounts ; for it is a popular no- 
tion that poets, scholars, and artists can be very easily cheated, 
and therefore more people try to cheat them than they do or- 
dinary mortals. Even among the inferior races, the more a 
creature is likely to be preyed upon, the more wary and vigi- 
lant Nature designs it to be. Poet, before you sit down to 
surpass " Paradise Lost," be sure that you know the market 
price of mutton : you may not surpass " Paradise Lost," but 
jon will certainly have to pay for your mutton. Politician, 
before you devote yourself to your country with the ambition 
to excel Mr. Pitt, see that your servants don't cheat you; they 
cheated Mr. Pitt, and, in cheating him, made one of those few 
dread humiliations of his august life which brought tears to his 
proud eyes, but no amendment in his weekly bills. Perhaps 
the only thing in which, oh politician ! you may resemble Mr. 
Pitt, is, that your servants may cheat you ; and if you are not 
Mr. Pitt, no friends will come forward to humble you by pay- 
ing your debts. Poet or politician, the more you labor for 
immortality, be the more on your guard that your mortal ca- 
reer do not close in the Queen's Bench ! but especially if you 
be a professional man of letters, living on the profits of yonr 
pen, let your publisher know that you are as punctual and 
scrupulous in the fulfillment of engagements as if he were 
dealing with a formal clerk in the city. No genius can afibrd 
to dispense with loyalty and honor. Loyalty and honor ne- 
cessitate the attention to business. Every man to whom you 
make a promise that you will do such and such work in a cer- 
tain time, should rest assured that your word is as firm as the 
Rock of Gibraltar. Confidence is the first principle of nil bus- 
iness. 



110 HINTS ON MENTAL CULTUEE. 

It is a wondrous advantage to a man, in every pursuit or 
avocation to secure an adviser in a sensible woman. In wom- 
an there is at once a subtle delicacy of tact and a plain sound- 
ness of judgment which are rarely combined to an equal de- 
gree in man. A woman, if she be really your friend, will 
have a sensitive regard for your character, honor, repute. She 
will seldom counsel you to do a shabby thing, for a woman- 
friend always desires to bo proud of you. At the same time, 
her constitutional timidity makes her more cautious than your 
male friend. She, therefore, seldom counsels you to do an im- 
2:)rudent thing. By female friendships I mean pure friendships 
— those in which there is no admixture of the passion of love 
except in the married state. A man's best female friend is a 
wife of good sense and good heart, whom he loves, and who 
loves him. If he have that, he need not seek elsewhere. But, 
supposing the man to be without such helpmate, female friend- 
ships he must still have, or his intellect will be without a gar- 
den, and there will be many an unheeded gap even in its 
strongest fence. Better and safer, of course, such friendships 
where disparities of years or circumstances put the idea of love 
out of the question. Middle life has rarely this advantage ; 
youth and old age have. We may have female friendships 
with those much older, and those much younger, than our- 
selves. Moliere's old housekeej)er was a great help to his 
genius ; and Montaigne's philosojDhy takes both a gentler and 
a loftier character of wisdom from the date in which he finds, 
in Marie de Gournay, an adopted daughter, " certainly be- 
loved by me," says the Horace of essayists, " with more than 
paternal love, and involved in my solitude and retirement as 
one of the best parts of my being." Female friendships, in- 
deed, is to a man "prsesidium et dulce decus" — the bulwark 
and sweet ornament of his existence. To his mental culture 
'it is invaluable ; without it all his knowlege of books will nev- 
er give him knowledge of the world. 

In science, read, by preference, the newest Avorks; in litera- 
ture, the oldest. The classic literature is always modern. 
New books revive and redecorate old ideas ; old books sug- 
gest and invigorate new ideas. 

It is a great preservative to a high standard in taste and 
achievement to take every year some one great book as an es- 
peciisl study, not only to be read,. but to be conned, studied. 



HINTS OX MENTAL CULTURE. Ill 

brooded over ; to go into tlio country with it, travel with it, 
be devotedly faithful to it, be without any other book for the 
time; compel yourself thus to read it again and again. Wlio 
can be dull enough to pass long days in the intimate, close, fa- 
miliar intercourse with some transcendent mind, and not feel 
the benefit of it when he returns to tbe common world? 

But, whatever standard of mental excellence you thus form 
in your study of the Excellent, never, if you wish to be wise, 
let your standard make you intolerant to any other defects but 
your own. The surest sign of wisdom is charity ; and the 
best charity is that which never ostentatiously parades itself 
as charity. For your idea of man as he ought to be, always 
look upward ; but to judge aright man as he is, never affect 
to stoop. Look your fellow-man straight in the face. Learn 
all you jDOssibly can ; and when you have learned that all, I 
repeat it, you will never converse with any man of sound brain 
who does not know something worth knowing better than 
yourself. 

Sir Walter Scott, in a letter to Joanna Baillie, says: "I 
never heard of a stra.nger that utterly baffled all efforts to en- 
gage him in conversation except one, whom an acquaintance 
of mine met in a stage-coach. My friend,* who piqued him- 
self on }iis talents for conversation, assailed this tortoise on all 
hands, but in vain ; and at length descended to expostulation. 

" 'I have talked to you, my friend, on all the' ruling subjects 
— literature, farming, merchandise, gaming, game-laws, horse- 
races, suits at law, politics, and swindling, and blasphemy, and 
philosophy — is there any one subject that you Avill favor me 
by opening upon ?' The wight writhed his countenance into 
a grin. ' Sir,' said he, ' can you say any thing clever about 
bend-leather ?' 

"There," says Sir Walter, "I own I should have been as 
much nonplused as my acquaintance." 

I venture to doubt that modest assertion. Sir Walter would 
have perceived that he had not there to teach, but to learn ; 
and I am quite certain that, before the end of the journey, he 
would have extracted from the traveler all that the traveler 
could have told him about bend-leather. x\nd if Sir Walter 
had learned all about bend-leather — what then ? What then ? 
It would have been sure to have come out in one of his books, 
* This friend M-as Mr. "William Clrrk. 



112 HINTS ON" MENTAL CULTUEE. 

suggested some felicity in humor, or sported into some play- 
ful novelty in character, which "vvould have made the whole 
reading world merrier and wiser. 

It is not knowledge that constitutes the difference between 
the man who adds to the uses and embellishments of life, and 
the man who leaves the world just as he found it. The diifer- 
ence between the two consists in the reproduction of knowl- 
edge — in the degree to which the mind appropriates, tests, ex- 
perimentalizes on, all the waifs of idea which are borne to it 
from the minds of others. 

A certain nobleman, very 2:)roud of the extent and beauty 
of his pleasure-grounds, chancing one day to call on a small 
squire, whose garden might cover about half an acre, was 
greatly struck with the brilliant colors of his neighbor's flow- 
ers. "Ay, my lord, the flowers are well enough," said the 
squire, " but permit me to show you my grapes." Conducted 
into an old-fashioned little green-house, Avhich served as a 
vinery, my lord gazed, with mortification and envy, on grapes 
twice as fine as his own. "My dear friend," said my lord, 
" you have a jewel of a gardener ; let me see him !" The gar- 
dener was called — the single gardenei' — a simjole-looking young 
man imder thirty. "Accept my comiDliments on your flower- 
beds and your grapes," said my lord, " and tell me, if you can, 
why your flowers are so much brighter than mine, and yom* 
grapes so much finer. You must have studied horticulture 
profoundly." " Please your lordshijD," said the man, " I have 
not had the advantage of much education; I ben't no scholar; 
but as to the flowers and the vines, the secret as to treating 
them just came to me, you see, by chance." 

"By chance? explain." 

" Well, my lord, three years ago, master sent me to Lnnnon 
on business of his'n ; and it came on to rain, and I took shelter 
in a mews, you see." % 

"Yes, you took shelter in a mews — what then?" 

" And there w^ere two gentlemen taking shelter too ; and 
they w^ere talking to each other about charcoal." 

" About charcoal ? Go on." 

"And one said that it had done a deal o' good in many 
cases of sickness, and specially in the first stage of the cholera, 
and I took a note on my mind of that, because we'd had the 
cholera in our village the year afore. And I guessed the twc 



mXTS ON MENTAL CULTURE. 113 

gentlemen were doctoi's, and knew Avliat tliey wei"e talking 
about." 

" I dare say they did ; but flowers and vines don't liavc the 
cholera, do they ?" 

"IsTo, my lord, but they have complaints of their own ; and 
one of the gentlemen went on to say that charcoal had a 
special good effect upon all vegetable life, and told a story of 
a vinedresser in Germany, I think, who had made a very sick- 
ly poor vineyard one of the best in ail those parts simply by 
charcoal-dressings. So I naturally pricked up my ears at that, 
for our vines were in so bad a way that master thought of do- 
ing away with them altogether. 'Ay,' said the other gentle- 
man, 'and see how a little sprinkling of charcoal will brighten 
up a flower-bed.' 

" The rain was now over, and the gentlemen left the mews ; 
and I thought, 'Well, but before I try the charcoal upon my 
plants, I'd best make some inquiry of them as aren't doctors, 
but gardeners ;' so I went to our nurseryman, who has a deal 
of book-learning, and I asked him if he'd ever heard of char- 
coal-dressing being good for vines, and he said he had read in 
a book that it was so, but had never tried it. He kindly lent 
me the book, which was translated from some forren one. 
And, after I had picked out of it all I could, I tried the char- 
coal in the way the book told me to try it, and that's how the 
grapes and the flower-beds came to please you, my lord. It 
vras a lucky chance that ever I heard those gentlemen talking 
in the mews, please your lordship." 

" Chance happens to all," answered the peer, sententiously, 
"but to turn chance to account is the gift of few." 

His lordship, returning home, gazed gloomily on the hues of 
his vast parterres ; he visited his vineries, and scowled at the 
clusters; he summoned his head gardener — a gentleman of the 
highest repute for science, and who never spoke of a cowslip 
except by its name in Latin. To this learned personage my 
lord communicated what he had heard and seen of the benig- 
nant eifects of charcoal, and produced in proof a magnificent 
bunch of grapes, which he had brought from the squire's. 

"My lord," said the gardener, scarcely glancing at the 

grapes, " Squire 's gardener must be a poor ignorant 

creature to fancy he had discovered a secret in Avhat is so 
very well known to every professed horticulturist. Professor 



114 HINTS ON MENTAL CULTURE. 

Liebig, my lord, lias treated of the good effect of charcoal- 
dressing to vines especially, and it is to be explained on these 
chemical principles" — therewith the wise man entered into a 
profound dissertation, of which his lordship did not understand 
a word. 

"Well, then," said the peer, cutting short the harangue, 
" since you know so well that charcoal-dressing is good for 
vines and llowers, have you ever tried it on mine ?" 

" I can't say I have, my lord ; it did not chance to come into 
my head." 

"Nay," replied the peer, " chance put it into your head, but 
thought never took it out of your head." 

My lord, who, if he did not know much about horticulture, 
was a good judge of mankind, dismissed the man of learning, 
and, with many apologies for seeking to rob his neighbor of 
such a treasure, asked the squire to transfer to his service the 
man of genius. The squire, who thought that, now the char- 
coal had been once discovered, any new gardener could apply 
it just as well as the old one, was too happy to oblige ray lord, 
and advance the fortunes of an honest fellow born in his vil- 
lage. Plis lordship knew very well that a man who makes 
good use of the ideas received by chance will make a still bet- 
ter use of ideas received through study. He took some kind, 
but not altogether unselfish pains with the training and edu- 
cation of the man of genius whom he had gained to his service. 
The man is now my lord's head forester and bailiff. The 
woods thrive under him, the farm pays largely. He and my 
lord are both the richer for the connection between them. 
He is not the less practically painstaking, though he no longer 
says " ben't" and " his'n ;" nor the less felicitously theoretical, 
though he no longer ascribes a successful exj)eriment to chance. 



ESSAY XL 

GoD^^^ix has someAvliere remarked on the essential distinc- 
tion between tlie moral object and the moral tendency of a 
work. A writer may present to you, at the end of his book, 
some unexceptionable dogma Avhich parents would cordially 
admit into the copy-book ethics of their children, yet, in the 
process of arriving at this harmless aphorism, he may have led 
the mind as much astray into mischief as it is in his power to 
do. On the other hand, a writer may 'seek to work out a 
proposition, from the moral truth of which there would be a 
very general dissent, and j'et be either harmless, or often in- 
structive and elevating, from the reasonings which he employs, 
or even from the mere art which embellishes his composition, 
and supersedes, in the mind of the reader, the purpose to which 
the art was applied. For Art itself is essentially ethical; be- 
cause every true Avork of Art must have a beauty or grandeur 
of some^ kind, and beauty and grandeur can not be compre- 
hended by the beholder except through the moral sentiment. 
The eye is only a witness; it is not a judge. The mind judges 
what the eye re2)orts to it; therefore, Avhatever elevates the 
moral sentiment to the contemplation of beauty and grandeur 
is in itself ethical. Though no Christian can approve the idol- 
atrous worship to Avhich the Parthenon was devoted, or which 
the Apollo Belvidere represented, few Christians nowadays 
would deny that the human intellect has been refined and ex- 
alted by the study of those masterpieces of Art. The object 
for which they were created by their artists is annulled, but 
their effect is existent and imperishable. It may indeed be 
said that the refinement or even the elevatton of the intellect 
is not necessarily an improvement in the moral being; and 
unquestionably it must be owned that an individual, nay, some- 
times a generation, may combine exquisite refinement of taste 



116 MOIIAL IDFFECT OF AVKITEES. 

Avitli profound corruption of manners, just as it is possible that 
an individual or a g-enoration may unite a sincere devotion to 
the mild Christian faith with the savage fanaticism of a fol- 
lower of Omar ; but the salutary eflect of Art, as that of 
Christianity, must be sought, not in an individual nor in a gen- 
eration, but in the concrete masses of society, and in the pro- 
gressive history of the human race. In Art the salutary eifect 
may not be directly and immediately derived from the origi- 
nal standards, models, and types of Beauty ; more often it is 
to be indirectly and remotely traced, in countless succession, 
through an intricate variety of minds, to which the originals 
have suggested new forms of Art, new presentations of Beauty. 
In the heathen temples of the East originated the outlines of 
the Gothic architecture now so essentially Christian. 

Art, in fact, is the effort of man to express the ideas which 
Nature suggests to him of a power above Nature, w^h ether 
that power be within the recesses of his own being, or in the 
Great First Cause of which Nature, like himself, is but the ef- 
fect. 

Art employs itself in the study of Nature for the purpose 
of implying, though but by a hint or a symbol, the supernatu- 
ral. By the word supernatural I mean, not that which is 
against Nature, but that w^hich is above Nature. Man him- 
self, in this sense of the word (the only sense in which Philoso- 
phy can employ it), is supernatural. And hence Jacobi, justly 
termed by Sir William Hamilton "the pious and profound," 
says with felicitous boldness "that it is the supernatural in 
man which reveals to him the God whom Nature conceals." 
Mere Nature does not reveal a Deity to such of her children 
as can not conceive the supernatural. She does not reveal Him 
to the cedar and the rose, to the elephant and the moth. Man 
alone, from his own supernatural — that is, his own spiritual — 
attribute, conceives at once, even in his most savage state, 
even in his earliest infoncy, the idea of the Supernatural which 
Nature, without such attribute in man himself, could not re- 
veal to him ; and out of that conception is born Art, Avhich 
we not only degrade, but altogether mistake and falsify, if we 
call it the imitation of Nature. 

The acanthus leaf may suggest the form of a capital to a 
column ; a vista through the forest stems may suggest a peri- 
style or an aisle. But a temple, whether in Assyria, in Greece, 



MORAL EFFECT OF WKITERS. 117 

in China, in England, is no imitation of Xatnre — it is a selec- 
tion' from Xature of certain details arranged into a whole, to 
which no whole in Nature has resemblance, and intended to 
convey ideas of a something which man conjectures or divines 
to be supernatural by reason of the supernatural within him- 
self. 

It is thus with art in sculpture, in masonry, in color ; it is 
so with the nobler art which finds sculpture, masonry, and col- 
or in man's most primitive expression of thought — Language. 

There is no work of true Art in language existent, nor can 
there ever be one, in which there is not expressed the idea of 
a power beyond external ISTature — in which there is not some 
creation which external Nature never produced — in which 
there are not appeals to sympathies, afi:ections, aspirations, 
which would be the same in the innermost shrine of man's 
being, if external Nature were annihilated, and man left a spirit 
in a world of spirit. 

As, in the art of masonry, sculpture, or color, the effect of 
true art is ethical, whatever the original intention or object of 
the artist, so it is in the art of language. All Genius compre- 
hends Art as its necessity : where there is no ai't, there can be 
no genius in a book, any more than without art there can be 
genius in a picture or a statue. Every book of first-rate gen- 
ius is and must be a work of first-rate art, though it may be a 
kind of art so opposed to the fashion of the day that the com- 
mon criticism of the day, nay, even the finest taste of the day, 
may not detect and appreciate it. Neither Ben Jonson nor 
even Milton comprehended the sovereign Mastership of Art 
in Shakspeare. But Shakspeare himself could not have been 
conscious of his own art. And no writer, whatever his moral 
object, can foresee what in the course of ages may be the mor- 
al effect of his performance. 

The satirical design in " Gulliver's Travels" is certainly not 
that which philanthropists would commend to the approval of 
youth. It seeks to mock away all by which man's original 
nature is refined, softened, exalted, and adorned ; it directs the 
edge of its ridicule at the very roots of those interests and 
motives by which society has called cities from the quarry, 
and gardens from the wild; and closes all its assaults upon 
the framework of civilized communities with the most ruthless 
libel upon man himself that ever gave the venom of Hate to 



118 MOEAL EFFECT OF WKITERS. 

the stingings of wit. Yet the Look itself, in spite of its de- 
sign, has no immoral, no misanthropical influence : we place it 
without scruple in the hands of our children : the lampoon 
upon humanity is the favorite fairy tale of the nursery. And 
I doubt if any man can say that he was ever the worse for all 
that was meant to make him scorn and detest his species in 
The Voyage to Laputa or the description of the Yahoos ; 
Avhile the art of the book is so wonderful in rendering lifelike 
the creations of a fancy only second to Shakspeare's in its pow- 
er of "imagining new worlds," that, age after age, it will con-, 
tribute to the adornment and improvement of the human race 
by perpetual suggestions to the inventive genius by which, 
from age to age, the human race is adorned or improved. 
None of us can foresee what great discoveries, even in practical 
science, may have their first germ in the stimulus given to a 
child's imaginative ideas by the perusal of a work in which 
genius has made fiction truthlike, and the marvelous natural. 
"Wonder," says Aristotle, " is the first cause of Philosophy." 
This is quite as true in the progress of the individual as in that 
of the concrete mind ; and tiie constant aim of philosophy is 
to destroy its parent. In vain. Where Avonder is ejected 
from one form, it reappears in another; transmutable always 
— destructible never. 

But to return to the distinction between the object and the 
tendency of an author's work. No one would think it neces- 
sary to vindicate the morality of Johnson's " Rasselas," few 
would extol the morality in Voltaire's " Candide," yet there is 
so much similarity in the moral object of the two stories that 
Voltaire congratulated himself on having published "Candide" 
before " Rasselas" appeared, " otherwise," he said, " I should 
have been accused of plagiarizing the 2:>hilosophical conception 
of the distinguished Englishman." 

In fact, as two travelers may arrive at the same inn b}^ dif- 
ferent roads and in different company, so two writers can ar- 
rive at the same moral conclusion through very different paths ; 
and the impression of the journey left on the mind depends on 
the features of the country traversed, and the companions one 
has had by the way. It is not rendered alike in both the trav- 
elers because they meet at last under the same sign, and con- 
clude their adventures with a chop off the same mutton. 

It is the property of true genius, in proportion as time acts 



MOKAL EFFECT OF WPaTEES. 119 

upon its works, to lose its deleterious particles, and retain only 
those wbicli are innocuous or salutary. The interests of man- 
kind never concede lasting popularity to works that would se- 
riously injure them. Some works, it is true, of an order infe- 
rior to that which is assigned to the masterpieces of genius, 
may be decidedly Avicked in their elFect if indiscriminately 
read ; but look for them a few generations after their first ap- 
pearance, and you will never find them among the current lit- 
erature of a people: they will have shrunk out of sight in the 
obscure corners of learned libraries, referred to only by schol- 
ars or historians as illustrations of manners in a by-gone age, 
and read by them with the same cold, scientific eye that a phy- 
sician casts upon specimens of morbid anatomy. The works 
that remain incorporated in the world's literature all serve to 
contribute to the world's improvement. Passages, indeed, 
here and there, as in the classic poets, are extremely censura- 
ble, but they sink into insignificance compared with the gener- 
al excellence of the pervading wholes, as, in mortal life, human 
imperfections and blemishes little aflect the good derivable 
from the large example of a saint's or a hero's character. 
From Nature herself Ave may select partial evil. If we choose, 
out of all her products, to take the nightshade for our nutri- 
ment, though, beside the hedge in which it lurks, the prodigal 
corn glitters ripe in the sun, we may certainly harm ourselves, 
and lay the fault upon Xature ; but Nature is not to blame if 
we devour the nightshade and eschew the corn. 

The great poem of Lucretius expounds the creed of an athe- 
ist ; no modern collegian was ever made an atheist by reading 
the poem of Lucretius. Has any modern collegian been made 
the better, the wiser, the nobler, by reading it ? In all proba- 
bility, yes ! Because the poem abounds with ideas that enrich 
his intellect and exalt his thoughts. Its sublimity, as Dugald 
Stewart justly observes, " will be found to depend chiefly, even 
in those passages where he (Lucretius) denies the interference 
of the gods in the government of the Avorld, in the lively ima- 
ges which he indirectly presents to his readers of the attributes 
against which he reasons. . . . The sublimest descriptions 
of Almighty PoAver sometimes forming apart of his argument 
against the Divine Omnipotence."* In fact, the poem, to a 
very ordinary reason, is in itself a rcfatatiou of its philosophic- 
* Dngald Stewart " On the Sublime," Essay II., chap. ii. 



120 MORAL EFFECT OF WIMTP^RS. 

al purjDose. It would resolve the artistic design of creation to 
a fortuitous concurrence of atoms. But could any one, read- 
ing the poem, conceive that those harmonious lines could be 
strung together by fortuitous concurrence ? And follows it 
not, as a corollary of common sense, that if a poem can not be 
written without a poet, the universe can not be created with- 
out a Creator ? 

Hence, I think, it will be found that the best and subtlest ef- 
fects of writers are those of which they were themselves un- 
conscious while writing. Critics, in later times, gain repute 
by discovering what the author did not mean. I have said that 
Shakspeare could not be conscious of his own art. How many 
recondite designs are imputed to him of which he was wholly 
unaware ? I have read an elaborate argument to prove that 
the character of Shylock was conceived as a plea in favor of 
religious toleration. But it is clearly the man to whom the 
idea of religious toleration is familiar, in a subsequent age, 
who discovers that Shylock may be applied as an illustration 
of an argument in favor of the emancipation of the Jews. 
Goethe, in examining the depths of meaning in " Hamlet," in- 
troduces the line, "He's fat and scant of breath, "in order to 
give a physical clew to the intricate moral character of the 
Danish prince.* " The fencing tires him," says Wilhelm Meis- 
ter ; " and the Queen remarks, ' He's fat and scant of breath.' 
Can you conceive him to be otherwise than plump and fair- 
haired? Brown-complexioned people, in their youth, are sel- 
dom plump ; and does not his wavering melancholy, his soft 
lamenting, his irresolute activity, accord with such a figure ? 
From a dark-haired young man you would look for more de- 
cision and impetuosity." 

The dogmas conveyed in this criticism are neither historic- 
ally nor physiologically correct. If, as Wilhelm Meister had 
just before asserted, "Hamlet must be fair-haired and blue- 
eyed — as a Dane, as a Northman," certainly, of all the popula- 
tions on the earth, the Dane, the Northman, has ever been the 
least characterized by " wavering melancholy" or " soft lament- 
ing." The old Scandinavian Vikings did not yield to any 
dark-haired warriors " in decision and imj^etuosity." To this 
day, those districts in England wherein the old Danish race 

* "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship." Carlyle's translation, Book v., 
c. 6. 



MORAL EFFECT OF WRITERS. 121 

left their descendants — where the bhie eye and the light sandy- 
hair are most frequently seen — as in the Scottish Lowlands, 
the Northern Border counties, in Lincolnshire, or in Norfolk 
(those provinces in Avhich Palgrave proves the wholesale set- 
tlement of the Danes), the superior activity, the practical long- 
headedness, the ready adaptation of shrewd wit to immediate 
circumstance — in short, all the attributes most opposed to the 
character of Hamlet, are proverbially evidenced. Nor is it 
true that the fair-haired children of the North are more in- 
clined in youth to be plump than the dark-haired inhabitants 
of the same climate. Tlie Yorkshireman and the Lowlander 
are generally high cheek-boned and lean. But is it clear that 
the Queen's remark is intended to signify that Hamlet is liter- 
ally fat ? Does the expression convey any other sense than 
that in which a pi'ize-fighter, far from corpulent, would half- 
sportively use it, in order to imply that he is out of training ? 
If, however, the word really did convey to the audience an 
idea in harmony with the personal appearance of the person 
who uttered it, Shakspeare, as a practical stage - manager, 
would have meant it to apply, not to the ideal Dane, but to 
the flesh-and-blood actor who was performing the part ; as in 
" The Midsummer Night's Dream," the two heroines exchange 
satirical taunts upon their respective proportions of stature, 
because of the two youths who performed the parts of Hermia 
and Helena one was taller, the other shorter, than usual. The 
jest there would have been unsuccessful, indeed unsafe, if the 
audience were not prepared for its fitness by the contrast be- 
tv/een the two figures bodily before their eyes. But a Avorld 
of refining criticism might be Avritten to show what subtle dis- 
tinctions of character — between the tall and the short — Shak- 
speare designed to intimate in the verbal duel between Hermia 
and Helena. 

Though Goethe wastes so much exquisite ingenuity on the 
pinguous temperament of Hamlet, no one would have acknowl- 
edged more readily than Goethe the general proposition that 
an author himself is unaware of the best and deepest moral 
deductions which a reader may draw from his works. 

No poem of our age has more perplexed the critics as to its 
moral design than Goethe's "Faust." And what says the 
poet himself of that design? "They ask me what idea I 
wished to incorporate in my 'Faust.' Can I know it? Or, 

F 



122 MORAL EFFECT OF WEITEES. 

if I know, can I put it into words?" And, indeed, it is upon 
this fact — viz., that genius in Art can not, like mastership in 
Science, trace step by step the process which leads to its re- 
sults — that Kant bases the theory by which he distinguishes 
art from science, and restricts to art the application of the 
word Genius (the innate quality of the mind — ingeniimi). 
" Genius," he says, " can not of itself describe, nor scientifically 
demonstrate, how it accomplishes its productions, but it gives 
the rule by an inspiration of nature, and so the author of a pro- 
duction, for which he is indebted to his genius, knows not him- 
self how the ideas form themselves in his mind. It is not in 
his power to form the like at his own pleasure and methodic- 
ally, and to communicate to others precepts which can enable 
them to accomplish the like works." 

But, on the other hand, Genius has many conceptions, many 
subtle beauties of thought, many arcana in occult wisdom, of 
which it is fully cognizant, and which no critic ever detects. 

Certain I am that every author who has written a book with 
earnest forethought and fondly -cherished designs, will bear 
testimony to the fact that much which he meant to convey has 
never been guessed at in any review of his work ; and many 
a delicate beauty of thought, on which he principally valued 
himself, remains, like the statue of Isis, an image of truth from 
which no hand lifts the veil. 

The moral effects of writers upon the spirit of a nation 
must, no doubt, be considerable, yet it is difficult in this to dis- 
criminate between the effect which the writers produce on the 
nation and the effect Avhich the nation produces on the writ- 
ers. A people sound at the core will not be corrupted by any 
meretricious or enervating literature which may be in fashion 
for the time. We may certainly presume that the profligate 
wits, whose plays and lyrics amused Charles II. and his court, 
did not form, but Avere formed by, the manners of a reign 
which did in reality substitute one revolution for another. 
The first reaction from revolution is revolution. A dominant 
desire to contrast the austerity of the Puritans could not re- 
sult in a decorous generation. But the generation passed — 
with it, the fashionable literature that represented it ; and En- 
gland was ultimately none the Avorse for the ribaldry of Roch- 
ester ; let us hope she is to this day the better for the sublim- 
ity of Milton. 



MOKAL EFFECT OF AVKITERS. 123 

Where a peoiDle is degenerate, it receives from its literature 
only excuses for its own degeneracy. The softness of Lydian 
manners, no doubt, served to engender the soft Lydian music. 
But the music, as it extended its fame among manlier com- 
munities, would have seemed to the Lydians to dignify the 
volujatuous efleminacy of which it was the persuasive expres- 
sion. 

Yet when the Spartans, in one brief holiday of their martial 
existence, nationalized Alcman, the most famous of Lydian po- 
ets,* all the innovations he introduced into the Doric music — ■ 
all the license which he gave to his genius. Orientally sensual, 
did not corrupt the Spartans. Their proudest achievements 
in history date long after Alcman had joined Linus and Or- 
pheus in the Fields of Asphodel. In their private entertain- 
ments the stern lords of the Helot continued to enjoy the gay 
strains of the Lydian in praise of love and good cheer ; but 
when the state was in danger, they gathered round the tent 
of their king to find fitting voice for patriotism and valor in 
the war-song of Tyrtoeus. 

The moral eflect of writers is unquestionably sometimes the 
mere echo of the time in which they write ; and such writers 
may, for their season, be exceedingly poi^ular, but the proba- 
bility is that their fame will not endure. Whether their effect 
be for good or for evil, it is on the surface of an ever-fleeting 
society, and not in the deeps of our inefl^aceable human nature. 
The writers whose efliect on their nation, and, beyond their 
nation, on the family of mankind, is pennanent, are no echoes 
of their time, nor do they so much influence their own genera- 
tion as they do the generations that succeed, Helvetius in- 
deed has, with great force and an eloquence often noble, in- 
sisted upon the fact that the literature and the spirit of an age 
move in concert together. "There is an age," he observes 
truly, " when the word virtus in Italy meant both morality and 
valor ; there has been another age when the word virtu meant 
a taste for antiquities and knickknacks." 

But Helvetius, like all enthusiasts of a system, rejects the 
facts which would militate against his system. He commences 
his 19th chapter, "De I'Esprit," Avith the dogma that "the 

* See Clinton's "Fasti Hellenici," and Colonel Mure's "Critical His- 
tory," for the authorities and testimonies in support of the opinion that as- 
signs to Lydia the honor of Alcman's origin and birthplace. 



124 MOKAI. EFFECT OF WRITEES. 

esteem for different kinds of genius is in every age propor- 
tioned to the interest the j^eople have in esteeming them;" 
and proceeds thus: "To show the perfect justice of tliis prop- 
osition, let us first take romance for an examj)le. From the 
publication of ' Amadis' to the present age, that kind of writ- 
ing has successively experienced a thousand vicissitudes. 
Would we know the cause? . . . The principal merit of most 
of these works depends on the exactness with which they paint 
the virtues, vices, passions, customs, follies, of a nation. But 
the manners of a nation change every age. This change must, 
then, occasion a revolution in taste, and consequently in ro- 
mance. A nation is, therefore, constantly forced, by the very 
desire of amusement, to despise in one age what it admired in 
that which jireceded it. What I have said of romance may be 
applied to almost all other works." The assertion here made 
is notably untrue ; it applies only to indifferent and mediocre 
works, which perish because they are indifferent or mediocre. 
And a work that paints the manners of an age essentially dif- 
ferent from our own, will be as much admired in our age as in 
that which gave birth to it, if it deserve such admiration from 
enduring qualities. The romance of Cervantes describes no 
manners harmonious to our own, and is more esteemed than 
any romance which does. Nay, the princii^al merit of Walter 
Scott consists in his portraiture of times utterly distinct from 
the time in which he lived. 

In a very corrupt age, a vitiated moral taste may possibly 
accept a vicious morality as a sound one; but even in societies 
the most licentious, if a work by a true genius appear, present- 
ing some innocent, childlike picture of life and manners, the 
probability is that it will seize the public attention more firm- 
ly than it would have done in simple communities, to whose 
social characteristics it offered no contrast and implied no re- 
buke. " Paul and Virginia" was published in a time perhaps 
the most cynical and profligate that Franceherself ever knew, 
yet its chaste pathetic idyll went straight and irresistibly to 
the public heart. I doubt if it would have made so great a 
sensation in a virtuoiis age. But this is one instance, among 
many, in refutation of the axioms of Helvetius, who maintains 
that genius is so far dependent on manners that it can not win 
popular favor for a work to which the manners of the age are 
not congenial. And, indeed, in the latter part of the same 



MOEAL EFFECT OP WraTEES. 125 

chapter from which I have quoted, Helvetius, unconsciously 
to himself, contradicts his own doctrine, because he allows that 
there are woi'ks of which our esteem survives the manners 
they depicted by their fidelity to human nature in general. 
And if this be so, such works would command the esteem of 
their own age, even if they represented a state of society utter- 
ly foreign to that of the age itself. 

Yet there are periods when a tendency and spirit in literary 
compositions, which would be either inoperative or even mis- 
chievous in other periods, may become eminently effective and 
beneficent. For instance, suppose a time when a nation is pre- 
disposed to aggressive wars, a literature systematically stimu- 
lating the passion for military glory would either be inopera- 
tive, because not needed, or mischievous, because adding fuel 
to a flame already perniciously destructive. But next, sup- 
pose a time when a nation, long enervated by peace, has fallen 
into a drowsy neglect of self-defense — suppose that dangers 
are gathering round it, Avith which nothing can cope but the 
revival of a hardy martial spirit, animating the community to 
consent to every sacrifice for the security of their native land 
— then a literature, warlike and fiery, may be that which best 
evokes the one public virtue, without which all others would 
be in vain for the conservation of the body politic, and the 
most martial poet would, for the moment, be the noblest mor- 
alist. 

For this reason we must, if we would judge fairly of the 
moYoi intention oi works of genius, take a comprehensive view 
of the times in which they were composed, and the j^urposes 
to Avhich they served. Yet the moral eff'ect of all works of a 
pre-eminent genius will be felt in times beyond his farthest 
vision, and conduce to purposes unconceived by his profoundest 
thought. "Mizraim cures Avounds, and Pharaoh is sold for 
balsams." * 

It may justify the indulgence which, on the whole, we are 
compelled, whether we will or no, to concede to all varieties 
of genius in their ethical objects, when we notice the fact that, 
where genius is pre-eminent, becomes enduring, establishes its 
products as a part of the "everlasting possession" which civil- 
ization transmits from age to age, the good remains and the 
evil jDcrishes. 

* Sir Thomas Browne, "Hydviotaphia." 



126 MORAL EFFECT OF WRITERS. 

Take even the author Avho, in the judgment of most sober 
Englishmen, did in his own day the most mischief, and in the 
most wanton spirit, by writings of which no one can dispute 
the genius — I mean Voltaire. Well, not a century has passed 
since he closed his long career, and, strange to say, the great 
bulk of the works which most moved his time is already obso- 
lete and unread. Wit the most lavish has not preserved "La 
Pucelle" from disdain ; irony the keenest has not sapped one 
foundation in Christian faith. What of Voltaire remains pop- 
ular and current? Writings either harmless or morally be- 
nignant; school histories, like those of Charles XII. and Peter 
the Great ; the first suggestive sketch of social history itself 
in "L'Esprit des Moeurs;" decorous tragedies constructed 
with an art which critics commend to the study of genius, and 
abounding with ethical maxims which preceptors impress on 
the memories of youth ; and a general authority against fanat- 
icism and persecuting bigotry, against oiDpression and arbi- 
trary law. 

Nay, even in his philosophy, w^hile its siege-works against 
Christian Revelation have so crumbled away that they supply 
no corner-stone to any system which speculators have since 
constructed, France still owes to Voltaire's patient labor the 
knowledge of Newton's " PrincijDia," from which she has de- 
duced so many great discoveries of her own. Without Vol- 
taire France might not have known La Place. And even in 
that special field of controversy, wherein he fought with the 
infidel against the Cross, while no opponent to Christianity 
now picks up from the dust those light shafts in which, if the 
feather remain, the arrow-head is broken, divines tliemselves 
yet employ the heavy mace of ai'gument with which he demol- 
ished the atheism of Diderot, and defended those two truths 
Avhich are the columns of every temple — the existence of the 
Deity and the immortality of the soul. 

Again, it is noticeable how much even the fallacies of a great 
writer serve, not the less eftectually, because indirectly, to tlie 
advancement of truth, by stimulating the energies of the writers 
who oppose the fallacies, and, in so doing, strike out new ideas 
and suggest fresh discoveries. How much his researches into 
alchemy may have warmed and emboldened the imagination 
of Newton, in Avhom imagination seems to have been only less 
powerful than reason ! It is said with no exaggeration by Sir 



MOEAX EFFECT OP WRITERS. 127 

Wiliiam Hamilton " that the man who gave the whole philos- 
ophy of Europe a new impulse and direction, and to whom, 
mediately or immediately, must be referred every subsequent 
advance in philosophical speculation, was David Hume." And 
this less from the partisans he enlisted than from the oppo- 
nents he aroused. " Accepting his principles from the domin- 
ant philosophies of Locke and Leibnitz, and deducing with ir- 
resistible evidence these principles to their legitimate result, 
Hume showed, by the extreme absurdity of these results them- 
selves, either that philosophy altogether was a delusion, or that 
the individual systems which afforded the premises were er- 
I'oneous or incomplete. He thus constrained philosophers to 
the alternative either of surrendering philosophy as such, or 
of ascending to higher principles in order to re-establish it 
against the skeptical reduction." To Hume we owe the phi- 
losophy of Kant, and therefore all that Kant himself has orig- 
inated in the succeeding philosophies of Germany. To Hume 
again we owe the philosophy of Reid, and consequently what 
is now distinctively known in Europe as the philosophy of the 
Scottish School — that school which, in France, originated the 
intellectual movement that raised up, in Royer-Collard, Vic- 
tor Cousin, and Maine de Biran, the counterpoise to the dis- 
guised materialism which had previously been accepted, with 
scarcely a question, in the system by which Condillac analyzed 
every faculty into sense. These considerations tend to confirm 
the wisdom of complete toleration to the freedom of all opin- 
ion. Had some mistaken benevolence of intention suppressed 
the publication of Hume's skeptical theories, because of the 
temporary harm they might effect, it would have suppressed 
also all those great arguments for an immaterial soul in man 
which have enlai-ged and ennobled the whole world of thought. 
Kant would have continued in " his dogmatic slumber ;" Reid 
would have remained in quiet adhesion to Locke; the materi- 
alism of Condillac would still be reigning over the schools of 
France. 

Our obligations to genius, even where it may not mean to 
be our special benefactor, are so great, that our gratitude is as 
involuntary as the service it acknowledges. Every genius, it 
is true, however eminent, may find its hostile critics; but, in 
spite of the critics, Avho are frequently right in detail, we con- 
tinue our homage to every eminent genius on the Avhole. 



128 MOEAL EFFECT OF WEITEES. 

What should we know to-day if genius had not been free to 
guess, right or wrong, through the long yesterday ? It was 
said of Plato, " If he had not erred, he Avould have done less." 
The saying does not exaggerate, it falls short of, the truth ; 
for it may rather be said of every great man, " If he had not 
erred he would have done nothing." And our obligations to 
genius are the greater, because we are seldom able to trace 
them. We can not mount up to the sources from which we 
derive the ideas that make us what we are. Few of my read- 
ers may have ever read Chaucer ; fewer still the " Principia" 
of Newton. Yet how much poorer the minds of all my read- 
ers would be if Chaucer and Newton had never written ! All 
the genius of the past is in the atmosphere we breathe at pres- 
ent. But who shall resolve to each individual star the rays 
of the heat and the light, whose effects are felt by all, whose 
nature is defined by none? This much, at least, we know; 
that in heat the tendency to equilibrium is constant ; that in 
light the rays cross each other in all directions, yet never in- 
terfere the one with the other. 



ESSAY XII. 

(Du tjir DistiiittiDu htuinu Mlu Cijongjit 

It is the peculiarity of the human mind that it can not long, 
at a stretch, endure the active consciousness of its own oper- 
ations. "It seems possible," says one of the most modest and 
cautious of physiologists, "that certain cases of madness de- 
pend on a cause which can scarcely exist, even in slight degree, 
Avithout producing some mental disturbance, viz., the too fre- 
quent and earnest direction of the mind inward upon itself — 
the concentration of the consciousness too long continued upon 
its own functions."* 

It is another peculiarity of the human mind that a man can 
as seldom say to himself, with success, " Now I will think ex- 
clusively on this or that subject," as he can say to himself, 
" Now I will dream of tliis or that image." 

Some writer, I forget at this moment whom, declares that 
he did not know what it was to think till he got his pen into 
his hand. Pascal, on the contrary, observes that, "in the very 
act of writing, his thought sometimes escaped him."f I can 
recall no moment of my life, out of sleep, in which ideas were 
not passing through my brain ; nay, my own experience con- 
firms the expression of Kant, "that there is no sleep in Avhich 
we do not dream, and that it is the rapidity with which ideas 
succeed each other in sleep that constitutes a principal cause 
why we do not always recollect what we dream.";^ 

* "Chapters on Mental Physiology." By Sir Henry Holland, Bart., M. 
D. Page 77 (2J edition). 

t "En ecrivant ma pensee, elle m'echappe quelquefois." — "Pensees de 
Pascal," Art. ix. 

I "Lectures on Metaphysics," by Sir W. Hamilton, Bart., vol. i., p. 318, 
319. "I have myself," says Sir W.Hamilton, "at diiferent times turned 
my attention to the point, and, as far as my observations go, they certainly 

F 2 



130 DISTINCTION BETWEEN 

But it is one thing to see an undistinguisliable crowd, an- 
other thing to command its numbers and marshal them into 
the discipline of an army ; one thing to be aware of the images 
that rise within, and flit from us into space, another thing to 
form those images into ranks of thought, and direct their 
march toward a definite object. 

Thought as distinct from Keverie — Thought compact and 
practical, such as can be stamped into I'ecord or concentred 
into action, is generally a mechanical involuntary process, the 
steps of which we are unable to trace. "The understanding, 
like the eye, while it makes us to see and perceive all other 
things, takes no notice of itself."* 

The mind, in this, greatly needs the help of some accustom- 
ed association in the physical structure. It is strange how 
frequently it contracts some habit of the body by which it 
seems to give ease to its vent, or gather vigor for its utter- 
ance. Every one accustomed to public speaking knows how 
much the facility with which his thoughts flow into language, 
and his language expands into eloquence, is increased by the 
freedom of gesture : it is not only that the action employed by 
the orator impresses the eye of the audience, but it stimulates 
and intensifies the thought of the orator himself, so that, if he 
has long accustomed himself to ungraceful and rugged gesture, 
though he may be fully aware of his faults — though, by the aid 
of an actor, he might exchange his rude spontaneous move- 
ment for an artificial elegance, he feels that, were he to do so, 
his oratory would lose more than it Avould gain. It would be 
long before he would cease to be embarrassed by the con- 
sciousness of his efibrt to suppress the defect which custom 
had made a part of himself; he would long want that thor- 
ough self-abandonment which gave to his rude delivery the 

tend to prove that during sleep the mind is never inactive or wholly uncon- 
scious of its activity." Baxter has some remarks to the same effect in a pas- 
sage of his "Inquiry into the Nature of the Human Soul," which appear to 
have escaped the notice of more recent metaphysicians. And appended to 
that passage there occurs the following note, which forestalls Kant's observa- 
tion: "A very remarkable author, writing on this subject, has these words: 
' I suppose the soul is never totally inactive. I never awaked, since I had 
the use of my memory, but I found myself coming out of a dream ; and I 
suppose they that think they dream not, think so because they forget their 
dreams.' " — M. R. Bankes's "Defense of the Soul's Immortality." 
* Locke, Introduction to "Essay on the Human Understanding." 



ACTIVE THOUGHT AND KEVEEIE. 131 

merit of earnestness, and lent even to faults the beauty of art- 
less passion and genuine impulse. 

A counselor, renowned for the art of his pleading, had a 
ti'ick of rubbing his spectacle-case while addressing a jury. A 
foolish attorney who had confided a brief to him thought this 
action ludicrous, and likely to impair the effect of the pathetic 
apj^eals which the nature of the suit admitted. Accordingly, 
he watched for a sly opportunity, and stole away the specta- 
cle-case. For the first time in his life, the counselor's tongue 
faltered — his mind missed the bodily track with which it had 
long associated its operations ; he became confused, embar- 
rassed — he stammered, blundered, and boggled — lost all the 
threads of his brief, and was about to sit down, self-defeated, 
when the conscience-stricken attorney restored the spectacle- 
case. Straightway, with the first touch of the familiar talis- 
man, the mind recovered its self-possession, the memory its 
clearness, the tongue its fluency ; and as, again and again, the 
lawyer fondly rubbed the spectacle-case, argument after argu- 
ment flew forth like the birds from a conjuror's box ; and the 
jury, to whom, a few minutes before, the case seemed hope- 
less, were stormed into unanimous conviction of its justice. 
Such is the force of habit ; such the sympath.y between men- 
tal and bodily associations. Every magician needs his wand ; 
and perhaps every man of genius has — his spectacle-case. 

Some of my readers may have witnessed, and many more 
will have read the account of, the curious effects which Mr. 
Braid, of Manchester, produced by what is called " hypnotism," 
from vTTvoQ (sleep). Mr. Braid rejected the theories of the 
mesmerizer and phrenologist, and maintained that he could 
produce, by action on the muscles, phenomena analogous to 
those with w^hich the phrenological mesmerist startles the 
sjDectators. I saw him thus fascinate to sleep a circle of mis- 
cellaneous patients by making each patient fix successively his 
(or her) eyes iipon a lancet-case tliat the operator held between 
finger and thumb. And when slumber had been thus induced, 
without aid of magnetic passes, and merely by the concentra- 
tion of sight and mind on a single object, Mr. Braid said to me, 
" Now, observe, I will draw into play the facial muscles Avhich 
are set in movement by laughter, and ludicrous images will 
immediately present themselves to the sleeper." He did so 
gently to one of the sleepers, an old woman, pushing up the 



132 DISTINCTION BETWEEN 

corners of her moutL. Presently the patient burst into laugh- 
ter so hearty as to be contagious among the audience present ; 
and when asked the cause, told (always in slumber) a droll 
story of something which had happened to her a few days be- 
fore, and which the muscular action, excited, had at once 
brought back to the memory. Next, Mr. Braid drew down 
the muscles on the wrinkled face of another old lady, bent 
her head toward the floor, and joined her hands as if in sup- 
plication. Immediately the poor old creature doled forth, 
" Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable sinners," and, if left long 
enough to herself, would have gone through all the responses 
in the Litany. Another touch or two of the enchantei-'s wand 
— the head thrown upward, the forehead gently smoothed, the 
eyebrows lifted, and the same old woman thought she was in 
heaven, and began to describe the beauties of the angels. I 
believe that Mr. Braid has in one respect been more fortunate 
than his fellow Thaumaturgists, the mesm.erizers. He has not 
been derided as a dupe, nor denounced as an impostor by skep- 
tical physiologists. His experiments, dating from 1842, have 
attracted considerable notice in England, and a still more se- 
verely critical attention abroad. In France they appear to 
have been confirmed and extended by the experiments of very 
eminent and cautious philosophers and physicians.* Taking it 
then for granted that no deception was practiced, either by 
himself or his patients, the hypnotism exhibited by Mr. Braid 
conveys a striking illustration of the instantaneous and invol- 
untary sympathy between the ideas presented to our inward 
intelligence, and the slightest threads of that external web- 
work behind which sits the soul vigilant and unseen. 

Certain it is that, of the most valuable of our intellectual ac- 
quisitions — viz., those which pass from hoarded savings into 
the grandeur and uses of reproductive capital — we can give no 
methodical accounts. We can number, indeed, the books we 
have read and the problems we have conned, but that is only 
to say where we have obtained the materials of fuel. When 
and how did the spark fall upon the fuel ? When and how 
did the dull carbon and the dry fagot leap into warmth and 
blaze ? The higher the genius, the less it is conscious of the 
degrees by which it has ascended. Yet even the most ordi- 

* See the chapter on Hypnotism, in M. Maury's comprehensire and en- 
lightened work, " Le Sommeil et les Keves," p. 243. 



ACTIVE THOUGHT AND KEVERIE. 133 

nary tliiukev among us would seek in vaiu to discover the ori- 
gin and progress of his tlioughts. Let him concentre his at- 
tention on that research, keep it there long and earnestly, and 
— Sir Henry Holland is right ! — ten to one but what he will 
puzzle himself into Bedlam. 

And here let me quote some lines by a French poet, admired 
in the last century and neglected in this, which have been 
greatly praised by Dugald Stewart for their "philosophical 
penetration :" 

"Enfin dans le cerveau si I'image est tracee, 
Comment peut dans un corps s'imprimer la pensee? 
La finit ton ceiivre, mortel audacieux, 
Va mesurer la terre, interroger les cieux, 
De I'immense univers regie' I'ordre supreme, 
Mais ne pretends jamais te connoitre toi-meme, 
La s'ouvre sous tes yeux un abime sans fonds."* 

But, no doubt, the cradle and nursery of definite thought is in 
the hazy limbo of Reverie. There, ideas float before us, rapid, 
magical, vague, half-formed ; apparitions of the thoughts that 
are to be born later into the light, and run their course in the 
world of man. 

And yet, despite their vagueness and incompleteness, how 
vivid, how lifelike those apparitions sometimes are ! I do not 
give them the name of thoughts, because as yet they are not 
singled out of space and subjected to our command. But still 
they are the souls of thoughts. 

That which is most marvelous to me is the celerity with 
which, when musing over any truth that one desires to ex- 
plore, conjecture upon conjecture, image upon image, chase 
each other, in ever-shifting panorama. 

"If," says Marcus Antoninus,f "a man will consider what 
a vast number of operations the mind performs, what an abun- 
dance of thoughts and sensations occur in the same moment, 
he will more readily comprehend how the Divine Spirit of the 
universe looks over, actuates, governs the whole mass of crea- 
tion !" Koble suggestion, in which lie depths of philosophy, 
from the impersonal pantheism systematized by Spinoza, to 
the divine omnipresent energy into which the pantheism is 
sublimely resolved by Newton. 

* De Lille, " L'Imagination," quoted by Dugald Stewart in note P. to his 
Essay "On some late Philological Speculations." fLib. 6-25 



134 DISTINCTION BETWEEN 

When Kant says that " we can dream more m a minute 
than we can act in a day," it seems to me that he rather under- 
states than exaggerates ; for so much is suggested in so small 
a point of time, that, were it in my power to transcribe all that 
passes through my mind in any given half hour of silent rev- 
erie, it would take me years to write it down. And this leads 
me to an observation which doubtless every practiced writer 
must often have made on himself. When, having sufficiently 
filled the mind with a chosen subject, and formed the clearest 
possible conceptions of what we intend to say on it, Ave sit 
down to the act of writing, the words are never exactly faith- 
ful to the preconceived ideas we designed them to express. 
We may, indeed, give the general purport of a meditated ar- 
gument ; the outlines of a dramatic plot, artistically planned, 
or of a narrative of which we have painted on the retina of the 
mind the elementary colors and the skeleton outlines. But 
where the boundless opulence of idea and fancy which had en- 
riched the subject before we were called upon to contract its 
expenditure into sober bounds? Plow much of the fairy gold 
turns, as we handle it, into dry leaves! And by a tyranny 
that we can not resist, while we thus leave unuttered much 
that we had designed to express, we are carried on mechanic- 
ally to say much of which we had not even a conscious per- 
ception the moment before the hand jotted it down, as an in- 
evitable consequence of the thought out of which another 
thought springs self-formed and full-grown. Even a Avriter 
so attentive to method as Cicero notices the irresistible vehe- 
mence Avith Avhich the things that we think of ravish away the 
words — "res ipsae verba rapiunt;"* and, in return, the words, 
as they rise spontaneously, seem to ravish aAvay the thoughts. 

This want of exact fidelity between thought Avhile yet m the 
mind, and its form Avhen stamped on the page, has not escaped 
the observation of Ancillon, a Avriter who ought to be better 
known to our countrymen ; for into that wide range of knowl- 
edge through which the German scholarship is compelled to 
rjinge in its tendency to generalize, he carries a sense as prac- 
tical as Reid's, and an elegance of criticism as sober as Dugald 
Stewart's. " Xo language," says this charming philosopher, 
" is a complete and finished imprint of the human mind, were 
it only because all that is intellectual and invisible in our un- 
* Cicero, "De Finibus," lib. ii., cap. 5. 



ACTIVE THOUGHT AND EEVEKIE. 135 

del-standing, our soul, complete and entire, is not and can not 
be expressed except by metaphors borrowed from the world 

of the senses {dii Monde Sensible) Where a man feels 

and thinks with a certain force, he can not be content with his 
expressions — they say always too much or too little."* 

In truth, I believe that no author, wn-iting on a subject he 
has long cherished and intensely pondered over, at whatever 
length, or with whatever brevity, will not find that he has 
made but a loose paraphrase, not a close copy, of the work 
forewritten in the mind. All thoughts, and perhaps in propor- 
tion to their gravity and scope, lose something when transfer- 
red from contemplation into language, as all bodies, in propor- 
tion to their bulk, lose something of what they weighed in air 
when transferred to Avater. 

Musing over these phenomena in my own mind, whereby I 
find that, in an art to which I have devoted moi-e than thirty 
years' practice and study, I can not in any way adequately ac- 
complish my own conception ; that the typical idea within me 
is always far, infinitely far beyond my power to give it on the 
page the exact image which it wore in space ; that I catch 
from the visible light but a miserable daguerreotyi^e of the 
form of which I desire the truthful picture — a caricature that 
gives indeed features, and lines, and Avrinkles, but not the 
bloom, not the expression, not the soul of the idea which the 
love in my own heart renders lovely to me ; musing over this 
wondrous copiousness of thought which escapes from me, 
scattering into spray as a cataract yields but drops to the 
hand that Avould seize it amid its plashes and fall, I say to my- 
self, "Herein I recognize that necessity for another life and 
other conditions of being, amid which alone thought can be 
freed and developed. It is in the incapacity and struggle, 
more than in any feat or victory, of my intellect, that I feel my 
thought itself is a problem only to be solved in a hereafter. 
At present, the more I labor to complete such powers as are 
vouchsafed to me, the more visible to myself is my own in- 
completion. And it is the sense of that incomj)Ietion Avhich, 
increasing on me in proportion as I labor for completeness, 
assures me, in an ulterior destination, of a AAader scope and 

* "Essais de Philosophic, do Politique, et de Littevatuve." Par Frederic 
Ancillon, de rAcademie Royale des Sciences et Belles Lettrcs de Prusse. 
"Des Developpemens da Moi Humain." Vol. i., p. 77, 78. 



136 DISTINCTION BETWEEN ACTIVE THOUGHT, ETC. 

less restricted powers. " Nature never disappoints — tlie Au- 
thor of Nature never deceives us."* If the child yet unborn 
" were qualified to reason of his jDi-ospects in the womb of his 
parent, as he may afterward do in his range on this terrestrial 
globe, he might apprehend, in his separation from the womb, 
a total extinction of life ; for how could he continue to receive 
it after his only supply of nourishment from the vital stock of 
his parent had ceased ?"f Poor Unborn ! what a skeptic he 
might be! How notably he might argue against a future 
state for him ! And how would that future state be best 
prognosticated to his apprehension? Surely it would be by 
referring him to those attributes of his organization which 
had no necessary relation to his present state, but conveyed 
hints of use for a future state ; in the structure of eyes meant 
to see a light not yet vouchsafed, of ears meant to hearken to 
sounds not yet heard. As the eyes and the ears to the Un- 
born are those attributes of the human Mind on this earth 
which for this earth are not needed — on this earth have no 
range, no completion. And to man we may say, as to the Un- 
born, "Wait! Nothing is given to you in vain. Nature is 
no spendthrift; she invents nothing for which no use is de- 
signed. These superfluous accessories to your being now are 
the essential provisions for your felicity and development in a 
state of being to come." 

For man, every present contains a future. I say not with 
Descartes, " I think, therefore I am," but rather " I am, there- 
fore I think ; I think, and therefore I shall be." 

* Chalmers's " Bridgewater Treatise," vol. ii., p. 145. 

t Dr. Ferguson. The passage cited in the text, with additional reason- 
ings too long to cite, is noticed with deserved compliment by Chalmers 
("Bridgewater Treatise," vol. ii., p. 127). But Chalmers is evidently una- 
ware that Ferguson's illustration is borrowed wholesale from Sir John 
Davies's noble poem " On the Immortality of the Soul." 

" These children [viz., the unborn in the vromb], if they had 
some use of sense, 
And should by chance their mothers' talking hear, 
That in short time they shall come forth from thence, 

Would fear their birth more than our death ^ve fear : 
They would cry out, ' If we this place shall leave, 

Then shall we break our tender navel-strings ; 
How shall we then our nourishment receive. 
Since our sweet food no other conduit brings ?' " etc. 



ESSAY XIII. 

(Dii i^t Ipirit in mjiirli Jfltm '^ux'nn sjinnlii 
h ruBiniL 

Much is said by innovators in complaint of tbe obstinate 
resistance tbey encounter from the professors of the special 
branch of human knowledge which an innovation is proposed 
to coiTect or to expand. The physician in high repute is the 
most stubborn opponent of some new pathological theory. 
The lawyer who is an authority in the courts looks with jeal- 
ous apprehension on the crotchets of a juris2)rudist who never 
held a brief. Philosophy itself, in which every system received 
to-day has grown out of innovations on the system in vogue 
yesterday, is the sturdiest opponent a speculator has to encoun- 
ter when he asks the public to accept some interpretation, or 
even to believe in some phenomenon of nature, which philoso- 
phei's would have much to unlearn before they could admit to 
be philosophical. This complaint is immemorial, and was made 
in Athens, where the genius of innovation was tolerably auda- 
cious, not less loudly by the disciples of Anaxagoras than it 
is nowadays by those who w^ould ask a Brodie to acknowledge 
the curative effects of homoeopathy, or a Faraday to convince 
himself that, in spite of the laws of motion, a table will jump 
from one end of the room to the other without being impelled 
by some cognate material force. And the complaint being so 
ancient, and, notwithstanding our boasted exemption from the 
intolerance of our prejudicial forefathers, just as frequent in 
our age as in any age of the past, it is probable that there is 
something in the organization of all societies which tends to 
the advancement of intellectual progress by the very caution 
with which the recognized leaders of the time receive sugges- 
tions to deviate into unaccustomed paths. 

No river would be navigable were its velocity not checked 
by friction ; and the friction increases as the stream proceeds, 
until the flow is thus made the easy thoroughfare of inter- 



138 SPIRIT IN WHICH NEW THEORIES 

change. One man may be sure of a truth, but before all men 
can accept it as truth from his i2^se dixit, many men must re- 
sist and oppose it. 

In political science, the necessity of this resistance to press- 
ure is constantly disi^uted, but never disputed by one politician 
worthy the name of statesman. All communities which ad- 
vance durably and safely contain, like Nature herself, two an- 
tagonistic powers — the one inert and resisting, the other active 
and encroaching. If the former be too stubborn, as it is in 
communities that establish hereditary castes, there can be no 
progress beyond the limit at which each subdivision of mental 
labor has been fixed in rigid monotony by a former age. Such 
societies may last long, but it is the longevity of a centenarian 
who, whether he continue on earth five years or fifty years 
longer, will exhibit nothing remarkable beyond the fact that 
he is still alive. He holds his existence on the condition of 
shunning the least disturbance to the chronic mechanism of 
his habits. 

On the other hand, where societies interpose no hinderance 
to any new innovation which may, for the moment, seize on 
the popular humor or be urged by a popular genius, there we 
may as surely predict their rapid exhaustion, as we could that 
of the Thames itself, if the power of friction were not opposed 
to the velocity of fluids. To take a flxmiliar illustration : the 
first French Revolution was the headlong rush of liberty un- 
checked ; when the Revolution stopped, liberty had run itself 
out. And ever since, under the bleak fissures through which 
it burst, and amid the vast fragments that, whirled from its 
banks, became the obstructions to its course, it is only here 
and there that pools, deep but stagnant, reflect the ruins made 
by the former torrent. 

As in bodies politic, so in all the departments of thought 
among which intellectual life is distributed, there must be, for 
safe and continuous progress, a jorinciple that delays innova- 
tion ! For by delay truth ripens — falsehoods rot. "There is," 
says Chalmers, finely, " a great purpose served in society by 
that law of nature in virtue of which it is that great bodies 
move slowly."* Therefore it is not only excusable, but praise- 
worthy, in those who are esteemed the especial guardians of 

* Chalmers's "Bridgewater Treatise" — Chapter on the Connection be- 
tween the Intellect and the Emotions. 



SHOULD BE RECEIVED. 139 

knowledge, to regard with a certain jealousy all proposals to 
exchange the old lamps for new. But still there is no truth 
so venerable but what was once a novelty. And a man loves 
something or other better than he does truth if he refuse to 
investigate any proposition professing to embody a new truth, 
however unfamiliar to his belief, however militant against his 
theories. " For my part," said one of the most candid and 
one of the most suggestive of English jshilosophers — " for my 
part, as well persuaded as I am that two and two make four, 
if I were to meet with a person of credit, candor, and under- 
standing who should seriously call it in question, I would give 
him the hearing.* 

Suppose that a philosopher is in doubt as to the length of a 
telescope in a friend's possession, and that ten persons, of 
whose general veracity there is no question, tell him that they 
have measured the telescope, and it is twenty feet long, he 
will accept their evidence, and cease to entertain a doubt as to 
the length of the telescope. But suj^pose this same philoso- 
pher had arrived at the conclusion that the moon is incapable 
of harboring any form of organic life, and the same ten per- 
sons, whose evidence he has just accepted in a matter on which 
no pride of science is involved, tell him that they have been 
looking through a telescope at the moon, and that they all, one 
after the other, have seen an enormous creature endowed with 
organic life — they entreat the philosopher to come and see 
this phenomenon himself — would the philosopher be justified 
in saying, " I shall not deign to take any such idle trouble. I 
have satisfied myself that no such creature can possibly exist 
in the moon. Your declaration is against the laws of Nature ; 
excuse me if against the laws of Nature I can accept no evi- 
dence, however respectable. It is within the laws of Nature 
that you ten gentlemen should tell a falsehood, or be deceived 
by an optical illusion. I accept either of these hypotheses as 
possible, and I Avill not debase the dignity of science by ex- 
amining into that which I know to be impossible." "Would 
the philosopher be justified in saying this ? 

Certainly he would not be justified by any aflTection for 
truth. He would be a bigot from the motive most common 
to bigots, viz., inordinate self-esteem. But perhaps it may be 
said that no genuine philosopher would have so replied. Par- 

* Abraham Tucker's "Light of Nature," c. xi., sect. 34 (On Judgment). 



140 SPIRIT IN WHICH NEW THEOEIES 

dou me, that answer would have been a warrantable deduction 
from the philosophy of Hume. When Hume speaks of the 
wonders,or, as he calls them, " miracles" wrought at the tomb 
of Abbe Paris, the famous Jansenist, he says, " Where shall 
we find such a number of circumstances agreeing to the cor- 
roboration of one fact ? And what have we to oppose to such 
a cloud of witnesses but the absolute impossibility or miracu- 
lous nature of the events which they relate? And this surely, 
in the eyes of all reasonable people, Avill alone be regarded as 
a sufiicient refutation." Scarcely so ; for what we call impos- 
sible in matters of fict deposed by numerous witnesses, not in- 
terested in the fabrication of a lie, is merely a something op- 
posed to our own experience. And if a philosopher is to pro- 
nounce for himself what is imj^ossible and what is not, there 
would soon be no philosophy at all. When the Indian prince 
asserted it to be impossible that water could become solid, it 
was because that assertion was opjDOsed to his experience. 
But, in spite of his experience, it was not only possible, it was 
a positive fact ; and I can not agree with Hume that the King 
of Slam's incredulity was " reasonable." Modern physiology 
has given some solution of those " miracles" at the Jansenist's 
tomb which Hume at once declared needed no other refuta- 
tion than that of their own miraculous nature. Cures that 
baffle science are effected by imagination. Allow for the in- 
evitable additions which all stories receive as they pass from 
lip to lip, and not least the stories of unusual occurrences, and 
the cures wrought at the Jansenist's tomb are facts — marvels 
if you please, yet not miracles. Certainly ISTewton would not 
have so answei'ed, because he never refused to examine. He 
" was prepared at any moment to abandon his theory." 
"When Bradley and others had observed a certain rotation 
of the earth which they could not account for, and were think- 
ing it destroyed entii'ely the Newtonian system, they were 
under the greatest difficulty how to break it to Sir Isaac, and 
proceeded to do so by degrees in the softest manner." What 
was his only answer ? " It may be so ; there is no arguing 
against facts and experiments." He did not reply that Brad- 
ley's discovery was impossible, because it was against the laws 
of Nature, as those laws were interpreted by the Newtonian 
system. But it is more convenient to philosophers to deny 
the evidence of facts and experiments which ojjpose their sys- 



SHOULD BE KECEIVED. 141 

tern, than it is, on the strength of the evidence, to examine the 
facts and test the experiments — more consonant to " the dig- 
nity of science" to say " Impossible," with Hume, than " It 
may be so," with Newton. 

Now, had my philosopher, who had decided on the laws of 
Nature as aftecting the products of the moon, replied to the 
ten witnesses of the alleged creature in that orb, " It may be 
so ; at the same time, my persuasions to the contrary are so 
strong that I must judge for myself," and then looked through 
the telescope with inquisitive, anxious eyes, perhaps he might 
have found the wonder explicable, and his system unharmed. 
He might, indeed, have beheld the monster whose existence 
seemed to destroy his theory ; but discovered, on careful scru- 
tiny, that it was no inhabitant of the moon, but a blue-bottle 
fly that had got on the glass, and, viewed through the magni- 
fier, seemed bigger than a dragon. 

Possibly, if a philosopher who possessed in an equal degree 
the virtue of candor and the acuteness of science, would con- 
descend to examine, as Bacon and Newton would unquestion- 
ably have examined, some of the modern thaumaturgia record- 
ed by witnesses whoso evidence w^ould decide any matter of 
fact in any court of law, possibly he might either make an im- 
mense progress in our knowledge of the laws of Nature, or 
prevent incalculable mischief in the spread of a new supersti- 
tion. If he say, " What you tell me is impossible ; I will not 
stoop to examine," he abandons the field to those who examine, 
deprived of the guide which his science should be to them; if 
he come to examine with old-fashioned notions drawn from 
the last century's stupid materialism, which any youth of our 
time, fit to mature into physiologist or metaphysician, knows 
to be obsolete rubbish, he may call himself a philosopher ; pos- 
terity will call him some hard name or another, certainly not 
philosopher. But if he say quietly, with Newton, '"It may be 
so ; there is no arguing against facts and experiments ;' I dare 
not say that, when you all, being respectable, intelligent men, 
agree that you see a monster in the moon, you are liars or 
idiots ; but before I believe in the monster, you must permit 
me to examine the telescope," then the philosopher is indeed 
a philosopher ; and then he may find, and then he may prove, 
to the satisfaction of all whom the portent appalled, that the 
monster in the moon is a blue-bottle fly on the lens. 



ESSAY XIV. 

(Dii (IFssnif-inritiiig in d^nrnal, ul \^nt (ISHnp 
IE IJitrtirnUr. 

Theee is no peculiarity in Montaigne which more called 
forth the censure of his earlier critics than the frequent want 
of correspondence between the subject-matter of his discourse 
and the title prefixed to it. 

"Witness," says one of the friendliest of his commentators, 
" witness the Essays ' On the History of Spurina,' ' On some 
Verses of Virgil,' 'On Vanity,' 'On Physiognomy,' etc.; in 
these the author incoherently rambles from one subject to an- 
other without any order or connection." 

Now, whether this peculiarity in Montaigne be really a fault 
or not, thei'e is no doubt that in him it is not to be ascribed to 
the want of premeditation and care. With all his vivacity, 
Montaigne was essentially artistic, sparing no pains to do his 
best for the work to which his genius was the best adapted. 

If in each succeeding edition of his Essays he did not mate- 
rially correct what had been already written, it was because, 
as he tells us, " Writers should well consider what they do be- 
fore they give their wares to the light — they have no excuse 
for haste — who hastens them?" But, though he so deliber- 
ately weighed the substance and so elaborately settled the 
form of sentences once set in type that he found no cause to 
recast them, still, in each succeeding edition he interpolated 
new sentences rich wdth new illustrations from riper experi- 
ence or extended scholarship ; so that his style, as it now 
comes down to us, has been compared to a pearl necklace, in 
which all the pearls were originally of equal size, but to which, 
from time to time, pearls much larger have been added, in- 
creasing the value of the necklace, but impairing the symme- 
try of the setting. 

But it is evident from his own frank avowals that Montaigne 



144 ESSAY-WEITING IN GENEEAL, AND 

deliberately resolved, at the first, upon that freedom of move- 
ment, that license of "leap and skip," which he continued with 
unabated vivacity to the last. " I go out of the way," he 
says, " but it is rather from a wantonness than heedlessness. 
I love the poetic ramble by leaps and skips — it is an art, as 
Plato says — light, nimble, and a little maddish." He proceeds 
to defend himself by the authority of his acknowledged model 
among the ancient writers. " There are," he observes, " pieces 
in Plutarch where he forgets his theme — where the proposi- 
tion of his argument is only found by incidence, and stuffed 
throughout with foreign matter. Good God! how beautiful, 
then, are his variations and frolicsome sallies, and then most 
beautiful when they seem to be fortuitous and inti'oduced for 
want of heed. It is the inattentive reader that loses my sub- 
ject, and not I: there will always be found some phrase or 
other in a corner that is to the purpose, though it lie very 
close."* 

It is clear from all this that Montaigne wrote as great art- 
ists do write, viz., from an unerring perception of that which 
was most suitable to his own genius, and, let me add, of that 
which may be less evident to the commonplace order of crit- 
ics, viz., the true theory and spirit of the kind of Avork which 
had engaged his forethought and concentrated his study. 

For in the art of essay-writing there appear to be two ex- 
tremes necessai'ily opposed to each other, toward one or the 
other of which the intermediate varieties of that class of com- 
position tend to gravitate — firstly, the essay which is in spirit 
and form didactic, and sets forth a definite proposition, to be 
established by logical reasoning and connected argument. In 
such essays, addressed rigidly to the understanding, the per- 
sonality of^the writer disappears. In a treatise on the Circu- 
lating Medium, on the Comparative Populousness of the An- 
cient States, on some vexed point in political economy, statis- 
tics, moral science, etc., the author, even Avhere his name gives 
to his opinions a recognized authority, must not distract your 
attention from his argument by attempts to engage your in- 
terest in himself. Directly opposed to this species of essay is 
that in which the writer does not profess to enforce any ab- 
stract proposition by sustained ratiocination, but rather pours 
forth to the reader, as he would to an intimate friend, his indi- 

* Montaigne, " Of Vanity," Cotton's translation, revised edition, 1776. 



TillCSO!; KSSAYS IN PARTICULAK. 145 

vidual impressions and convictions, his sentiments, Lis fancies; 
not imjDOsing on you a schoolman's doctrine, but imparting to 
you a companion's mind. He does not sternly say to you, 
" You should think this or that," but rather, " This or that is 
what I think, fancy, or feel." As the first-mentioned kind of 
essay, addressed solely to the understanding, is inherently di- 
dactic in the substance, so it is essentially prosaic in the style. 
Whatever the elegance of its periods, whatever the felicity of 
its ornaments, still the elegance is that of appropriate lucidity 
in statement and polished vigor in, reasoning ; and the orna- 
ment is only felicitous where, like the golden enrichment of 
the Milanese coats of steel, it renders more conspicuous the 
sterner metal on which it bestows an additional value. But 
the second kind of essay has in it much of the generical spirit 
of poetry. And so Montaigne himself very justly conceived, 
implying the excuse for his own j^layful licenses, where alone 
it ought to be sought, and where his critics had neglected to 
look for it, viz., in the truth that poetical genius of high order 
will have its way, and, though its mode of expression may dis- 
pense with verse, it can never be justly understood if it be 
only looked on as prose. "A thousand poets," says Mon- 
taigne, in treating of his own compositions, "creep in the pro- 
saic style; but the best old prose (and I strew it here, up and 
down, indifferently for verse) shines throughout, and has the 
lusty vigor and boldness of poetry, not without some air of its 
frenzy I mean that the matter should distinguish it- 
self; it sufficiently shows where it changes, where it concludes, 
where it begins, and where it rejoins, without interweaving it 
with words of connection, introduced for the service of dull 
and inattentive ears."* And the kind of poetry to which such 
form of essay belongs is that which is most opposed to the 
didactic, and may be described in the words by which Hegel 
has defined the character of lyrical poetry in its difference from 
the epic. 

" That," says this exquisite critic, " which the lyrical poetry 
expresses is the subjective — the interior world, the sentiments, 
the contemplations, and the emotions of the soul ; instead of 
retracing the development of an action, its essence and its final 
goal are the expression of the interior movements of the mind 
of the individual It is the personal thought, the inter- 

* Montaigne, "On Vanitv," Cotton's translation, revised edition, 1776. 

G 



146 ESSAY-WKITING IN GENERAL, AND 

nal sentiment and contemplation, in whatsoever they have 
ti'uthful and siibstantiah And the poet expresses them as his 
own tliought, his passion peculiar to himself, his personal dis- 
position, or the result of his reflections." 

Apply this definition to the Essays of Montaigne, and it fits 
as exactly as it does to the Odes of Horace. Elsewhere I have 
called Montaigne the Horace of Essayists — an appellation 
which apj)ears to me appropriate, not only from the subjective 
and personal expression of his genius, but from his genial 
amenity; from his harmonious combination of siDortiveness 
and earnestness ; and, above all, from the full attainment of 
that highest rank in the subjective order of intellect, when the 
author, in the mirror of his individual interior life, glasses the 
world around and without him, and, not losing his own identi- 
ty, yet identifies himself with infinite varieties of mankind. 

Just as Shakspeare has precedence over all poets who deal 
with the objective, inasmuch as his own personality is so abne- 
gated or concealed that it needs much patient study in the ob- 
server who endeavors to ascertain Shakspeare's individual 
opinions and beliefs apart from those which he puts into the 
lips of his characters, so Montaigne's precedence over all essay- 
ists who have regarded nature and life from the subjective 
point of view is maintained by the hardy frankness with which 
he carries out to the extreme the lyrical characteristic of indi- 
vidualized personality. That which is called his egotism forms 
the charm and the strength of his genius. And here it is that 
he stands alone, because no other essayist has nnited the same 
courage in self-exposition with the same close family resem- 
blance to the generality of mankind. Rousseau or Cardan 
may be as confidingly egotistical as Montaigne, but they pre- 
sent to us in their personalities creatures so exceptional, so un- 
like the general character of mankind, that they appear almost 
abnormal, and we are not even sure that they are thoroughly 
sane. 

Between these two opj)Osed schools in essay, viz., that which 
argues, like Hume, for a specific proposition, and that which, 
like Montaigne, rather places before the reader the thoughts 
and sentiments of an individual mind, there are many grada- 
tions, in which both schools are more or less mingled, and to 
which, therefore, I give the name of the Mixed Essay. In Ba- 
con's Miscellaneous Essays there is a little logical argument ; 



THESE ESSAYS IN PAKTICULAK. 147 

but there is a laconic adherence to the thesis set out, maintain- 
ed by sententious assertion on the authority and ?}jse dixit of 
the writer, who thereby rather insinuates than proclaims his 
pei'sonality : with Johnson the jDersonality is somewhat more 
obtruded, and the assertion more supported by argument: 
with Addison the distinctions between the two classes of com- 
position are more obviously preserved. In the Essay on the 
" Pleasures of Imagination," for instance, Addison is almost 
■wholly scholastic and objective, arguing his question as a 
truth deduced from principles exterior to his own personal im- 
pressions ; but in the Essay on " Superstition" (" Spectator," 
12), or on " Professions" (" Spectator," 21), there is little more 
than Avhat we may assume to be the lyrical effusion of his own 
contemplations and reflections. The charming Essays of Elia 
are almost wholly of the latter description. Their egotism is 
chastened and subdued, but their personality is never relin- 
quished : it is not philosophy that selects its problem, and pro- 
ceeds to solve it ; it is Charles Lamb who, philosophizing 
through whim and lancy, allures you to listen to Charles 
Lamb. 

These humble lucubrations are necessarily of the mixed or 
eclectic school of Essay. I am too English — that is, too shy 
. — to become the candid reporter of myself, and emulate the 
courageous confidence in the sympathy of his reader with 
which Montaigne dilates on his personal habits and his consti- 
tutional ailments. Neither do I desire so to contract my ex- 
perience, and so to reject the free play of speculation and fan- 
cy, as to move undeviatingly along the straight line of logic 
toward some abstract proposition. It is not every bird that 
flies as the crow flies toward its food or its nest. Unquestion- 
ably, herein I retain my personality, because without it all oth- 
er kind of essay than the argumentative and scholastic would 
be characterless and lifeless. In fiction the writer rarely speaks 
for himself; when he does so, it is but episodically — covertly 
— without giving us any tangible guarantee of his individual 
sincerity. In politics, and indeed in all polemics, the disputant 
argues for a cause, and in so doing it is better to cite anj' oth- 
er authority than his own. But in monologues of this kind it 
is a mind, and a heart, and a soul that are honestly giving out 
to the world what they have imbibed from experience, through 
the varied process of observation, reflection, outward survey, 



148 ESSAT-WEITING IN GENEKAL, AND 

and interior contemplation. Certainly many may say, " What 
care we what this man thinks, fancies, feels, believes, or ques- 
tions ? His opinions or sentiments are in no accoimt with us. 
If he affirms, ' I will prove a truth,' we will listen to him, not 
for his sake, but for the sake of the truth. But when he mere- 
ly says, ' I think, I feel,' a fico for his thoughts and his feel- 
ings." 

Certainly many may so say, and I have no right to blame 
them. I can only reply, with all possible meekness, that I en- 
tertain no such contempt for the mind of any fellow-man ; that 
to me no class of reading is more pleasant, and not many class- 
es of literature more instructive, than that in which a man, 
who has lived long enough in the world of men and of books 
to have acquired a wide experience of the one, and gathered 
some varied stores for reflection from the other, imparts to mo 
the results to which one mind arrives from lengthened and di- 
versified interchange with many minds. I need not necessarily 
take him as a judge upon mattei-s of controversy, but at least 
I may form my own judgment the better by admitting him as 
a witness. I do not ask him to be always saying something 
new. If, having wit or courage enough to say something new 
(than which nothing is more easy), he yet, after the siftings 
and weighings of his own unbiased judgment, arrives at a 
conclusion as old as a proverb, I am pleased to find a fresh 
corroboration of some belief which I have been accustomed to 
cherish as a truth. 

Charmed with observing in Degerando's "Compai-ative His- 
tory of the Systems of Philosophy" the reflected image of his 
own life and thought from youth, Goethe exclaims, in that 
careless strength with which he flings abroad solid masses of 
truth, "The great thing, after all, is to know on which side we 
stand, and where." 

Thus it never occurs to me, in the composition of these Es- 
says, to aim at that praise for originality Avhich is readily ob- 
tained by any writer who embodies paradoxes hostile to com- 
mon sense in language perversive of common English. I know 
that I can not fail to say much that is original, Avhether I will 
or not, because I am here simply expressing my own mind, as 
formed by life and by reading. No other human being in the 
world can have gone through the same combinations of expe- 
rience in life, or the same range of choice in reading. There- 



THESE ESSAYS IN PAETICULAB. 149 

fore, whatever its general resemblance to others, still in many- 
respects my miud must be 2:»eculiar to myself, and the expres- 
sion of it must in many respects be original. It is so with ev- 
ery man, whatever the degree of his talents, who has lived va- 
riously and read largely. He may not be original when he 
deals with fiction ; for invention there is intuitive, is genius, 
the gift of the gods. But when he is not inventing a fable, 
nor imagining beings who never existed, and going utterly out 
of himself to assign to them motives lie never experienced, and 
actions he never committed — when, in short, he is merely tak- 
ing off the stamp of his own mind, there can be no other im- 
pression wholly like it, and he is original without genius and 
without labor. 

In fiction, I am nothing if I do not invent ; that can not crit- 
ically be called a novel which does not artistically convey a 
novelty ; but in this confessional of thought I say what I think, 
indifferent whether it be new or old. Though I may come to 
conclusions to which millions have arrived before, and in pass- 
ing onward to those conclusions may utter much which thou- 
sands have already uttered, yet I am not the less sure that 
here and there I shall chance upon combinations of ideas, which 
have never hitherto been so combined, and that there is not a 
single one of these Essays in which some remarks wholly orig- 
inal will not be found by a reader to Avhom a fair degree of 
knowledge has taught the required justice of observation. He 
Avho accuses me herein of the want of originality, accuses him- 
self of that want of discrimination which comes from careless- 
ness or ignorance. " There are things," says Goethe, " which 
you do not notice only because you do not look at them." 
All the leaves in an oak-tree, all the faces in a flock, are the 
same to the ordinary eye ; but the naturalist can find no two 
leaves exactly alike, and the shepherd can distinguish every 
face in his flock by some original peculiarity. 

I leave it to i:)rofessed philosophers to group certain facts to- 
gether, and then form them into a definitive system. Schel- 
ling, Avhile showing how unstable, shifting, evanescent all sys- 
tems are, still thinks it essential to pure reasoning that a sage 
must make choice of a system which, as it were, holds together 
the threads of his argument, and converges the rays of his 
thought, 

" System," says Sir "William Hamilton, " is only valuable 



150 ESSAY-WBITING IN GENERAL, AND 

when it is not arbitrarily devised, but arises naturally out of 
the facts, and the whole facts, themselves. On the other hand, 
to despise system is to despise philosophy ; for the end of phi- 
losophy is the detection of unity." 

Certainly I do not despise philosophy, but I can not help 
remarking how much Time despises system. To the system 
of Locke, more rigidly narrowed by Condillac, and culminating 
in Hume, succeeds the system of Held. From the system of 
Reid grows the system of Kant ; from the system of Kant 
emanates the system of Schelling, the system of Hegel — what- 
ever other new system may now be rising into vogue. Sys- 
tems spring ui? every day, wither down, and again effloresce. 
Scarcely does Lamarck seem defunct and forgotten, ere, out- 
Lamarcking Lamarck, appears Darwin ! Sir William Hamil- 
ton, exulting in this perpetual transmutation of systems in the 
crucible of Time, exclaims, Avith grave enthusiasm, "As experi- 
ment results from the experiment it supersedes, so system is 
destined to generate system in a progress never attaining, but 
ever approximating to, perfection." But this progress consists 
in periodical retrogressions ; if it approximate to perfection, it 
is always harking back to some system dismissed long ago as 
wholly imperfect. Perplexed by the phenomena of hypnotism, 
mesmerism, and the like thaumaturgia, physiology (at least in 
the more progressive schools of the Continent) has recurred 
for its most valuable hints to the mysticism of Alexandrian 
Platonists, who are again taken down from their shelves to 
corroborate " a system." "Within the last twenty years Van 
Helmont has become once more an authority; and there is 
scarcely a new work treating of psychology which the in- 
quirers of France and Germany have lately put forth, wherein 
the great discoverer of gas is not quoted with respect. IM. 
Maury, accounting rationally for the phenomena ascribed to 
magic, vulgarly confounded with conjuring or imposture, says, 
Avith simple truth, " The secret of magic is to be sought in 
physiology" — viz., it is centred in rare effects, producible on 
certain constitutions. But that is no discovery ; it had been 
said before by the sages of antiquity and the illuminati of the 
Middle Ages. 

The whole tendency of philosophy at this moment on the 
Continent is toward a return to philosophies long neglected. 
What a reaction is silently going on toward Aristotle ! I see 



THESE ESSAYS IN PAKTICULAR. 151 

among the most " progressive" schoolmen of Europe the rise 
of scaffoldings for the restoration of antique thrones. 

Where innovation is boldest, it is often in reducing a num- 
ber of complex ideas, which have been, as it "svere, the crystal- 
lizations of Time round an original monad, back to the monad 
itself, and so leaving it to Time to crystallize the monad again. 

Bichat materialized the old triple divisions of life — the ani- 
mal, the rational, the spiritual — into the two forms, "life or- 
ganic and life vegetable." Tissot, nowadays, rejects all divi- 
sions whatsoever, and in that search for unity which our great 
Scotch metaphysical critic calls " the end of philosophy," con- 
solidates and cramps all that we thinlc, feel, and imagine into 
one absolute unity — Life. Notable discovery! which, in 
plain words, simply means this. Life is life ! Probably that 
much was known before the Egyptians had founded a college, 
or the Chaldees consulted a star. 

The systems of Newton and Bacon still keep their groimd, 
but not unassailed. Time already, though as yet with no noisy 
strides, is on his march against them. "Whoever is somewhat 
familiar with the speculative reasonings of Continental EurojDe 
in these later days, will find audacious questionings even of the 
doctrine of gravitation, and still more daring assertions that 
the Baconian system of induction is not only inapi^licable to 
those problems which man most desires to solve, but, if adhered 
to inflexibly, would have our own nature the most hopeless 
of riddles. Certainly I say not that these temerarious be- 
siegers of the only two systems of modern thought which are 
still standing, seemingly strong and secure, on the last bound- 
aries of human reason, have embraced a cause which established 
philosophy should even deign to examine ; or that, by march- 
ing with them, we shall " approximate toward perfection." I 
dare not presume to conjecture a flaw in the codes of a New- 
ton or Bacon ; but this I do \'«nture to predicate, that sooner 
or later the ranks of the besiegers will swell, and carry the day. 
New systems will replace for a time even those of the " Novum 
Organum" and "Principia." But two thousand years after 
that victory, the "Novum Organum" and "Principia" Avill 
again be reaired and well dusted, and set up in the schools as 
the only sound systems; they will then be called novelties 
" approximating toward perfection." Time sees the systems 
l^ass and repass, emerge and evanish, rearise and rewane, with 



152 ESSAY-WKITING IN GENERAL, AND 

a calm and contemptuous indulgence. But that which Time 
does retain evei'lastingly in honor is the philosopher's thought, 
apart from his system. 

The thought of Copernicus, Kepler, Descartes, stands aloft 
and imperishable, though we scarce see even the wrecks of 
their systems, the sites which they occupied have been so built 
upon. It is with them as with cities, in which the unity of a 
thought goes with the unity of a name. London conjures up 
the one idea of a London, though three Londons at least be 
buried under our streets. When lately I read through the 
completed edition of Descartes — which for the first time gives 
to convenient and familiar survey the whole structure of that 
mind which the bold thinker tells us he built up for himself — 
comparing the grandeur and soundness of his detached ideas 
with the puerilities and crotchets of his system, I could not 
help exclaiming, " How could this absolute king ever pass from 
his throne to a school!" Let those reasoners who can not 
think except upon system, fasten thought to a system, as men 
who plant trees tie their stems to a stake. The cord will rot 
away ; the stake will perish. Even if cord and stake answered 
their purpose for the time, still the tree, needing them no more, 
lifts itself into air, freed from the j^rop it has outgrown. For 
myself, I do not pretend to be a philosopher ; and if I did, I 
know of no sect of philosophy to which I could unreservedly 
give a disciple's adhesion. I do not presume to call myself 
even a scholar — illustrious and venerable name ; but I am, 
and have been for years — which should have given some com- 
pensations in experience for all that they have borne away 
from me in hope — a student of life and of books ; and that 
which in such study has become part and parcel of my mind, 
be it old, be it new, be it a truth or a fallacy, I gossip forth in 
these Essays. I have known the public so long that I can not 
but regard it as a friend. Alas ! how few frieudshijDS are left 
to me half as long, half as intimate, as that which I claim with 
thyself, oh my Reader ! As I talk to those I know best, so I 
write here. I aifect not to dictate ; my desire is to suggest. 

If I may judge by the letters I have received on the different 
subjects broached in these miscellanies — many of such letters 
being from men whom it most flatters a writer to class among 
his readers — I venture to hope that I have not wholly failed 
in my aim; for I observe that, whether my correspondent 



THESE ESSAYS IN PARTICULAR. 153 

express concurrence in or dissent from some idea that he here- 
in met with, that idea, whatever its worth or want of worth, 
has suggested independent tracks of idea to himself Who, 
on retracing the liistory of his own mind, does not feel how 
much he owes to some writer, perhaps comparatively obscure, 
or some guess, little heeded by others, which chanced to sug- 
gest a something that it made him restless to prove or disprove 
to hunself ? '■'■jS/'on fingor hypotheses^'' said Newton, with a 
scorn we revere in a Newton, to whom scorn was so rare. 
Still, if Newton disdained an hypothesis, he rejoiced in a guess. 
What are his queries but guesses ? And let strict mathema- 
ticians forgive me, but he who rests contented with New- 
ton's solutions can advance no farther. A realm of thought 
wide enough for a hundred centuries may be found in his 
queries. His solutions prove, and there end. His queries 
suggest : where finds suggestion a limit ? 

If, then, some tyrannical Afrite, wroth with my modest disa- 
vowal of system, or my arrogant pretensions to suffer my 
thoughts to grow without cord and stake, should say to me, 
" System of some kind thou shalt choose," my system should 
be the suggestive, because it is given to few men to prove, and 
to all men to suggest. 

Let me explain the word suggestive. Thought is valuable 
in proportion as it is generative. If vital itself, though it be 
but a germ, it vitalizes thoughts in others which may bloom 
into petals, or mature into fruits not vouchsafed to the thinker 
in whom it originates. I cast my thoughts freely abroad ; let 
the winds waft them loose. It is according to the soil on 
which they fall that they Avill be sterile or fertile. The best 
education is that which wakes up the mind to educate itself. 
He who adopts a system imposes on his ideas a limit. "This 
is my system," cries Square or Thwackum. " Take all or take 
naught; it is one welded whole, indivisible." There is no 
welded whole possible to man's mind, if the mind means to 
grow. The whole of to-day is a part, and a vanishing part, in 
every intellect that has before it a morrow. Better some stray 
playful thought that comes in unawares, through the open 
doors of our own unsuspicious thinking, and calls up our own 
reason to examine the face of the stranger, and judge for it- 
self whether to banish or welcome him, than a regiment of 
thoughts billeted upon us, expelling our own ideas out of their 

G2 



154 ESSAY-WRITING IN GENERAL, AND 

accustomed rooms, foreigners with whom we have no familiar 
language, and who, in leaving us, will be succeeded by some 
other detachment as foreign and as oppressive. 

All schools of thought with the vei^ha magistri^ by which 
their disciples must sweai', are finite and therefore mutable. 
To embrace as infallible any one system concocted by fallible 
men is to exchange our own bold and teeming inventions for 
formulae that say, " Think for yourselves no more ! These are 
the rules, from w^hich deviations are errors. These fix the 
last boundaries of invention, for these are the consummation 
of truth." 

I come, then, to your hearth, oh my Reader, an unpretend- 
ing visitor, privileged to say frankly what I doubt, believe, or 
deny, yet imposing no dogmas of doubt, behef, or denial on 
yourself; but if, while I converse, I stir up your own mind to 
examine what you believe, doubt, or deny, my task is accom- 
plished. I ask no simple man to get up from his easy-chair 
and say, " Here comes a philosopher ;" but if, after hearing me, 
as he sits undisturbed, he feels inclined to philosophize, I steal 
away and leave him to muse. Man, after all, must think for 
himself, or he does not complete his own intellectual existence 
— he does but reflect another man's. 

To learn how to form letters in a copy-book is one thing, to 
learn how to express your own ideas is another thing. Edu- 
cation commences with a system — that is, with the writing- 
master, A teacher comes to you with ruler and copy-book, 
jots down a neat moral saw or an arithmetical proposition, 
"Honesty is the best policy," or "Three times three make 
nine." Copy these dogmas in round hand, without a blot, and 
the writing-master pats you on the head, says " Good boy," 
and departs. And if you have no other teacher, a boy, good 
or bad, you will remain till you die. But after him of the rul- 
er and copy-book there comes the suggester. By that time 
you write running-hand, and have got beyond copying anoth- 
er man's dogma, though it may be as useful and as true as the 
propositions that " Honesty is the best policy," and " Three 
times three make nine," and the suggester says, "Write a 
theme !" " What the subject ?" " Any you please, no mat- 
te- how trite — ' The beauties of spring,' ' Tlie shortness of 
life.' " 

"And how shall I write it?" asks the difiident pupil. Is 



THESE ESSAYS IN PAETICULAK. 155 

the suggester a wise one ? Then he answers, " I start but the 
subject. Think for yourself and write." 

As the theme-suggester, compared to the writing-master, is 
the man who says, "Think for yourself — I start but the sub- 
ject," to the man who says, " Copj without a blot what I dic- 
tate to you." 

Think for thyself, oh my Reader. Even if thou acceptest a 
school, in which to walk in the beaten track made by thinkers 
before thee is called " safe thinking," unroll any chart of a 
kingdom or province, and note how narrow and thin are the 
lines of the highways compared to the country around them 
— how little thou canst see of the country if thou never turn 
aside from the road. When thou gazest on the track of light 
which the moon makes on the ocean, that track to thy vision 
seems the one luminous path through the measureless waste 
of the darkness around it ; but alter the course of thy bark, 
and the track shifts with the course — those waves illumined 
which before were rayless, and those in darkness which before 
were bi-ight. For the dark and the light vary still with thine 
own point of vision ; and, in truth, the moon favors not one 
wave more than another. Truth makes on the ocean of na- 
ture no one track of light — every eye looking on finds its own. 



ESSAY XV. 

We are always disposed to envy the man of a hopeful tem- 
per ; but a hopeful temper, where it so predominates as to be 
the conspicuous attribute, is seldom accompanied with pru- 
dence, and therefore seldom attended with worldly success. It 
is the hopeful temper that predominates in gamblers, in spec- 
ulators, in j)olitical dreamers, in enthusiasts of all kinds. En- 
deavoring many years ago to dissuade a friend of mine from 
the roulette table, I stated all the chances which calculators 
sum up in favor of the table against the gamester. He an- 
swered gayly, " Why look to the dark side of the question ? I 
never do !" And so, of course, he was ruined. I observe, in 
reading history and biography, that the men who have been 
singularly unfortunate have for the most part been singularly 
hopeful. This was remarkably the case with Charles I, It 
startles one to see in Clarendon how often he is led into his 
most fatal actions by a sanguine belief that fate will humor the 
die for him. Every day a projector lays before you some in- 
genious device for extracting sunbeams from cucumbers, with 
the most sanguine expectation that the age has just arrived at 
the certainty that his cucumber alone can enlighten it. The 
late Mr. Robert Owen remained to the last as sure of convert- 
ing the world to his schemes for upsetting it as if he had never 
known a disappointment. When, a short time before his 
death, that amiable logician, after rejecting all the evidences 
of nature and all the arguments of sages in support of the 
soul's immortality, accepted that creed on the authority of a 
mahogany table, the spirit of one of George IV.'s portly 
brothers, evidently wishing to secure so illustrious a convert, 
took care to rap out " Yes" when Mr. Owen asked if he should 
bring his plans before Parliament, and to sustain his new faith 
in a heaven by promising him that within a year his old hope 



158 THE SANGUINE TEMPERAMENT. 

of reforming the earth should be realized. Had his Royal 
Highness told him that he could never square the circle of life 
by a social parallelogram, I greatly fear that Mr. Owen would 
have remained a materialist, and declared table-rapping to be 
a glaring imposture. 

In my recollections of school aud college, I remember that, 
as between two youths of equal ability and ambition, the odds 
of success in rivalry were always in favor of the one least san- 
guinely confident of succeeding, and obviously for this reason: 
He who distrusts the security of chance takes more pains to 
effect the safety which results from labor. To find what you 
seek in the road of life, the best proverb of all is that which 
says, " Leave no stone unturned." 

As all men, however, have in their natures a certain degree 
of hoi:>e, so he is the wisest who husbands it with the most 
care. When you are engaged in any undertaking in which 
success depends partly on skill, partly on luck, always presup- 
pose that the luck may go against you, for that prcsuj^position 
redoubles all your efforts to obtain the advantages that belong 
to skill. Hope nothing from luck, and the probability is that 
you will be so prepared, forewai'ned, and forearmed, that all 
shallow observers will call you lucky. 

At whist, a game into vi^hich, of all games needing great 
skill, perhaps luck enters most, indifferent players, or even 
good players who have drunk too much wine, will back some 
run of luck upon system, and are sure to lose at the year's end. 
The most winning player I ever knew w^as a good but not a 
first-rate player, and, playing small stakes, though always the 
same stakes, he made a very handsome yearly income. He 
took up whist as a profession instead of the bar, saying ingen- 
uously, " At the bar, if I devoted myself to it, I think I could 
make the same yearly sum with pains, which at whist I make 
with pleasure. I prefer pleasure to pain when the reward is 
equal, and I choose whist." Well, this gentleman made it a 
rule never to bet, even though his partner were a B. or a C. 
(the two finest players in England now living since the empire 
of India has lost us General A.), and his adversaries any Y. Z. 
at the foot of the aljihabet. " For," said he, " in betting on 
games and rubbers, chance gets an advantage over the odds 
in favor of skill. My object is to win at the year's end, and 
the player who wins at the year's end is not the man who has 



THE SANGUINE TEMPERAMENT. 159 

won the most games and rubbers, but the man who m winning- 
has made the greatest number of points, and who in losing has 
lost the fewest, Now if I, playing for, say, 10s. a point, with 
B. or C. for my partner, take a £5 bet on the rubber, X. and 
Y. may have fom' by honors twice running; and grant that I 
save two points in the rubber by skill, losing six points instead 
of eight points, still I have the bet of £5 to pay all the same: 
the points are saved by the skill of the playing, but the rub- 
bers are lost by the chance of the cards." 

Adhering to this rule, abridging the chances of the cards, 
concentrating his thoughts on the chances in favor of skill, this 
whist-player, steady and safe, but without any of those inspi- 
rations which distinguish the first-rate from the second-rate 
player, made, I say, regularly a handsome income out of whist; 
and I do not believe that any first-rate whist-player who takes 
bets can say the same, no matter what stakes he plays. 

In life as in whist : Hope nothing from the way cards may 
be dealt to you. Play the cards, whatever they be, to the best 
of your skill. 

But, unhappily, life is not like the whist-table ; you have it 
not at your option whether to cut in or not ; cut in and play 
your hand you must. Now, talking of proverbs, "What must 
be must." It is one thing to be the braggadocio of hope, and 
it is another thing to be the craven of fear. A good general, 
before fighting a battle in which he can not choose his ground 
— to which he is compelled, w^ill he, nill he — makes all the pro- 
visions left in his power, and then, since "what must be must," 
never reveals to his soldiers any fear of the issue. Before it 
comes to the fight, it is mapping and planning. When the 
fight begins, it is " Forward, and St. George !" 

An old poet, Lord Brook, has two striking lines, which I will 
quote and then qualify : 

" For power is proud till it look doiyn on fear. 
Though only safe by ever looking there.^^ 

No, not safe by ever looking there, but by looking there — at 
the right moment. 

Before you commence any thing, provide as if all hope were 
against you. When you must set about it, act as if there 
were not such a thing as fear. When you have taken all pre- 
cautions as to skill in the circumstances against which you can 
provide, dismiss from consideration all circumstances depend- 



160 THE SANGUINE TEMPERAMENT. 

eiit on luck wbich you can not control. When you can't choose 
your ground, it is "Forward, and St. George !" But look for 
no help from St. George unless you have taken the same pains 
he did in training his horse and his dogs before he fought with 
the dragon. In short, hope warps judgment in council, but 
quickens energy in action. 

There is a quality in man often mistaken for a hopeful tem- 
perament, though in fact it is the normal acquisition of that 
experience which is hope's sternest corrective — the quality of 
self-confidence. 

As we advance in years, hope diminishes and self-confidence 
increases. Trials have taught us what we can do, and trained 
us to calculate with serene accuracy on the probable results. 
Hope, which has so much to do with gaming, has nothing to 
do with arithmetic. And as we live on, we find that for all 
which really belongs to the insurance against loss, we had bet- 
ter consult the actuary than stake against the croupier. 

"Fortune," saith a fine Latin proverb, "lends much at inter- 
est, but gives a fee-simple to none." According to the securi- 
ty you offer to her. Fortune makes her loans easy or ruinous. 

Self-confidence is not hope ; it is the self-judgment of your 
own internal forces, in their relation to the world without, 
which results from the failure of many hopes, and the non-re- 
alization of many fears; for the two classes of things that most 
rarely happen to ns are the things we hoped for and the things 
we dreaded. But there is one form of hope which is never 
unwise, and which certainly does not diminish with the increase 
of knowledge. In that form it changes its name, and we call 
it patience. " Patience," says Vauvenargues, " is only hoi^e 
prolonged." It is that kind of hope which belongs to the 
highest order of mind, and is so essential to the enterprises of 
genius that BulFon calls genius itself "a long patience," as Hel- 
vetius calls it "a sustained attention." Patience, indeed, is. 
the soul of speculation, "and the scope of all speculation is the 
performance of some action or thing to be done."* This is the 
true form of Hope that remained at the bottom of Pandora's 
Box; the more restless images or simulacra of the consolatory 
sustainer must have flown away among the earliest pinions 
that dispersed into air at the opening of the lid. 

* Hobbes. 



ESSAY XVI. 

€liB (Drgau of ilingjit. 

I BELIEVE that plireiiologists are generally agreed in allot- 
ting to the frontal sinus an organ which they call the organ of 
weight, asserting that where this organ is largely developed, 
the individual has a special faculty in estimating not only the 
ponderabilities of sacks of grain and bars of iron, but the prob- 
able results of any course of action on which the pressure of 
circumstance rivets his more immediate attention. 

Now, upon the truth of phrenology I hazard no opinion ; it 
is one of those vexed questions in which, not being convinced 
by the arguments of either party, I am contented to observe, 
with the Silent Gentleman in the " Spectator," " that there is 
a great deal to be said upon both sides." 

But putting wdiolly out of consideration all reference to 
craniological development, and leaving anatomists to dispute 
whether or not there be any such organ of weight in the front- 
al sinus, I venture to borrow from the phrenologists their 
technical term, and designate as the " organ of weight" that 
peculiar mental faculty of weighing the relative consequences 
of things immediately placed before them, which in some men 
is so saliently developed, in other men so notably deficient. 

In fact, I know of no other form of words in which I can so 
accurately define the quality of mind of which I am about to 
treat. This organ of weight is distinct from what can proj^er- 
ly be called prudence ; for prudence necessitates a degree of 
foresight extending far beyond the immediate consequences 
of things immediately present. The prudent man declines to 
pursue such and such courses because he foresees that they 
will lead him astray, or that he shall have to retrace his steps. 
But this organ of weight is often found most conspicuous in 
those who have no pretensions of foresight ; they weigh only 
what is close before them. Hence I have noticed that such 



162 THE ORGAN OF WEIGHT. 

men are liable to abrupt changes of conduct, and in public life 
are more exposed than many politicians less conscientious to 
the charge of deceiving their followers and betraying their 
cause. They advance, as it were, mechanically along the track 
of ideas to which they have been accustomed, regarding as 
impracticable theorists those who extend their survey of the 
road ; and when at last they come to a place where the conse- 
quences foretold by others, and disregarded by themselves as 
too remote to be brought into their scales, become tangibly 
present, and the question is not, " What shall we do by-and- 
by?" but "What is to be done now?" then they cry, ''This 
is serious! t/iis has become a practical substance! we must 
weigh it well!" And, weighing it well, they often decide, with 
an abruptness that takes the world by surj^rise, that what be- 
fore they had declared was Joo light to consider, is now too 
heavy to bear. In short, and without metaphor, they do ex- 
actly that, as the only prudent thing to do, which tliey had as- 
sured their confiding friends was the last thing that prudent 
men should contemplate doing. 

If, then, tins organ of weight can not be correctly described 
by the word Prudence, neither is it to be expressed by the 
name more commonly assigned to it, viz.. Judgment. It is in- 
deed a part of judgment, but only a part of it ; for judgment, 
in the full sense of that rare and admirable quality, consists in 
a justness of vision which comprehends a wide survey of many 
things near and distant, in order to ascertain the proportionate 
size of each thing ■within its scope, be it near, be it distant. 
Judgment comprehends measurement as well as weight ; and 
though it does not indeed absolutely need the prevision essen- 
tial to that prudence which the ancients esteemed the associ- 
ate and counselor of the diviner oi'ders of wisdom, according 
to their famous proverb, that " No deity is present where Pru- 
dence is absent," still judgment has a logic which links circum- 
stance to circumstance, cause to effect — examines fully the 
grounds on which it forms its opinions, and observes each new 
fact which varies the value of evidence it had hitherto received. 
Hence the man of judgment par excellence, when he modifies 
or changes any opinion that he had deliberately formed and 
openly professed, does so, not with startling suddenness, but, 
gradually connecting link by link the reasons which induce 
him to reverse his former conclusions, prepares the minds of 



TUE OEGAN OF WEIGHT. 163 

others for the final annomicement of the change which has 
been at work within his own ; so that he does not appear the 
advocate who betrays the cause of the chent whose suit he had 
undertaken, but the judge impartially summing up, according 
to the facts whicli he does not warp, and the laws which he 
can not depart from. I think, for instance, this may be said of 
Mr. Pitt, who, whether he relinquished as impracticable what 
he liad previously insisted on as judicious, or whether he de- 
nounced what he had before recommended, still so prepared 
the public mind for such changes in himself, that no man could 
accuse him of treachery, and only very inaccurate observers of 
fickleness. In this respect he was more happily constituted 
than Sir Robert Peel, who resembled him in many illustrious 
attributes, Avhether of dignified personal character, or devotion 
to what conscientiously appeared to his mind the interests of 
the state. In Sir Tlobert Peel the organ of causality was not 
proportioned to the organ of weight. Foresight no candid ad- 
mirer could assign to the man, in whom candor nevertheless 
finds so much to admire ; nor can he be said to have possessed 
that order of reason which so adjusts and accommodates its 
whole tenor of action, that what its possessor does to-day 
grows like a logical sequence out of what he did yesterday. 
Hence those startling changes of political conduct, in which, 
having unhesitatingly led his followers up to a certain point, 
he seemed, in deserting them, to abandon his former self. For 
remote contingencies he had no astronomer's telescope ; for 
consequences immediately before him he had the mechanician's 
eye — he weighed them at a glance. 

In men of this character there is generally a very strong 
sense of responsibility, and perhaps no public man ever pos- 
sessed that ennobling sense in a finer degree than Sir Robert 
Peel. And the consciousness of his own resijonsibility became 
necessarily strong in proportion as it was suddenly revealed 
to him. In opposition, a man is not considered by the public 
responsible for the results that may follow the adoption of his 
advice. But both by the spirit of the constitution and the 
opinion of the public, the moment the same man is transferred 
from opposition to ofiice, responsibility begins. And in pro- 
portion as his influence and position in ofiice are eminent and 
commanding, the responsibility increases in multifold ratio. A 
man who had grown into so great an authority with the na- 



164 THE ORGAN OF WEIGHT. 

tiou as Sir Rolbert Peel was resi^ousible to other trustees than 
those of party : he was responsible to the people, who confided 
in him even more than party did ; and the posterity to which 
his renown aj^pealed would estimate him accordingly as that 
responsibility was discharged. Thus, in the two most memo- 
rable changes which affected his political career, the sudden- 
ness of his conversion may be traced to the wholly different 
aspect which the questions at issue assumed to his eyes when 
he had to weigh, as urgent and practical, the difficulties which 
had before presented themselves to his mind as remote and 
speculative, and when the gravity of the responsibility was 
transferred from others to himself. 

None of the censures which Sir Robert Peel not unnaturally 
provoked appear to me to have been more erroneous than that 
which ascribed his political inconsistencies to moral timidity. 
Moral courage he must have possessed beyond most men, in 
twnce deliberately resolving to excite and to brave that wliich, 
to one so sensitive, reserved, and proud, must have been the 
most bitter of all the calamities inflicted by party war — viz., 
the reproach of his own army for surrendering its standards 
and its staff to the enemy. What has passed for moral timid- 
ity was, in fact, an acute conscientiousness, heightened, it may 
be, by that strong sense of his own personal individuality 
which was one of his most remarkable characteristics. It was 
a familiar observation in Parliament that no public speaker 
ever so frequently introduced into his speeches the word "I." 
Egotistical in the common — that is, in the harsh — sense of the 
word he was not. I have no doubt that he had more kindly 
benevolence of heart than many men more demonstrative. 
But from his youth upward he had been singled out for emi- 
nence above his contemporaries ; and as he advanced in life 
and in fame, he became more and more an individual power, 
distinct even from the principles which he represented. Many 
an honest temperate politician, caring little for Whig or Tory, 
turned to Sir Robert Peel for accurate information and safe 
opinion, as some nominal elector of a metropolitan district, too 
respectable or too apathetic ever to exercise his right of fran- 
chise, turns to the " Times" newspaper when he wants to as- 
certain the funds in which a sagacious speculator should in-' 
vest, or the creed whicli a practical politician should espouse. 
Sir Robert Peel was both a City Article and a Political Lead- 



THE OEGAN OF WEIGHT. 165 

er. Thus he could not fail to be imijressed with a predomi- 
nant consciousness of his own Ego ; and wherever he looked 
on the surface of the public, that Ego was reflected as in a 
room lined with glass. The sense of personal responsibility- 
was naturally increased with the consciousness of personal in- 
dividuality. And when he pondered on duty, he asked him- 
self, not " What is my duty to the party I lead ?" but " What 
is the duty that I owe to myself— I, Sir Robert Peel ?" But 
with that duty to himself he identified the duty that Sir Rob- 
ert Peel, of all men living, owed to his country — '■'•Ego et Pa- 
tria tneaP And hence, whatever might be his errors as a po- 
litical adviser and chief. History will doubtless accord him one 
of those favored places in her temple on which the light falls 
full on the noblest aspect of the image, leaving in shadow 
Avhatever outlines would less satisfy admiring eyes. 

Men Avho weigh only wliat the occasion submits to them al- 
ways more impress a practical assembly than men Avho enter 
into subtle calculations of prospective contingencies. Before 
a legislative assembly the question is " Ay or Xo" — whether 
a certain something shall be done that night, and not whether 
a certain something may come to pass that night ten years ! 
Those debaters, therefore, who weigh the reasons that imme- 
diately press for decision seem the only jiractical counselors, 
the only safe guides for the present, even while they are con- 
fessing tliat they misjudged the past, and proving that they 
ignore the future. 

Those, too, in whom the organ of weight is large, generally 
make good administrators ; for administration, in its ordinary 
routine, is but carrying on the customary operations of a ma- 
chinery already at work. The organ of weight is indeed an 
invaluable faculty in what is called practical life. It is usually 
deficient in fervent reformers, eager innovators, enthusiasts of 
every kind, who, looking forward, often with accurate vision, 
to distant objects, lose sight altogether of the obstacles an inch 
before their eyes. It is as notably absent in a Garibaldi as it 
is largely developed in a Cavour. This organ is more gener- 
ally wanting or inactive in women than in men. We see 
many women remarkable for discretion, and even for pre- 
vision, who nevertheless seem to lose their heads when they 
have to ponder on what must be immediately done. They are 
discreet, for they avoid difficulties as much as fate will permit; 



166 THE ORGAN OF WEIGHT. 

they are far-seeing, for they will predicate correctly, even in 
passion, what will be the results of a course to which they are 
urged or allured. But when Fate, despite their discretion, 
surprises tliem by a difficulty, or when that which they fore- 
saw at a distance has actually come to pass, their intellect 
seems paralyzed, and they fly intuitively for counsel to the 
practical mind of a man. Although, in the course of my own 
experience and observation, I have seldom found the special 
faculty of weighing things immediate combined with tlie more 
abstract faculty of foreseeing and calculating on things afar, 
yet it by no means follows that the two faculties are so an- 
tagonistic as not to be combined ; only where combined Ave 
recognize a very grand and consummate intellect ; and intel- 
lects very grand and consummate are rare phenomena. 

The combination must exist to a felicitous degree in great 
generals; in the founders or remodelers of states; in those who 
master the elements of revolution and establish dynasties. la 
more familiar life, the organ of weight jDredominates in men 
of business and action; the organ of causality in men of specu- 
lation and letters. In truth, the act of the statesman comes 
long after the thought of the writer, who, recommending such 
and such measure as theoretically sound, leaves it to the states- 
man to weigh the j^ractical difficulties with which he, and not 
the writer, has to deal; so that, as Burke has shown with his 
usual subtlety of reasoning, the same man will advocate in 
Avriting what he may not deem it wise to execute in action. 

This organ of weight appears to me more generally devel- 
oped in the British than in any other civilized people. And 
in this, I think, there is ijerhaps the main diflerence between 
them and their American kinsfolk. As a general rule, En- 
glish men of business look with great intentness and caution 
to things immediately before them, and with great indiffer- 
ence, often with distrustful aversion, to things at a distance. 
Hence their dislike to theory ; hence the emphatic respect they 
bestow on what they call practical sense ; hence, too, on the 
w^hole, the English are more disinclined to political novelties 
than any other population endowed with so large a degree of 
political freedom, so that even Avhen accepting a political nov- 
elty, they still desire to accommodate it to the political habits 
of reasoning to which they are accustomed ; and the advo- 
cates for innovation in whom they most confide always en- 



THE ORGAN OF WEIGHT. 167 

deavor to show that it is not the innovation which it appears 
at first sight, but is either a return to some elementary princi- 
ple in the ancient constitution, or the natural and healthful de- 
velopment of that constitution itself. The English are most- 
ly contented with seeking immediate remedies for immediate 
evils, and thus, from the dislike of foreseeing and preparing for 
changes that do not forcibly press, when they do concur in a 
change with suflicient force of numbers to carry it, it is with 
the same promptitude and haste which characterized the emi- 
nent man to whom I have referred, and who was in this, as in 
other respects, the archetype and representative of the English 
middle class of mind. Our American kinsfolk, on the other 
hand, to use their own phrase, are "a go-ahead" popidation. 
They look at distant objects with a more sanguine and eager 
ken than we of the Old World are disposed to do ; they do 
not weigh the pros and cons which ought first to be placed in 
the balance. And hence, perhaj^s, of all populations so intelli- 
gent, of which the history of the Avorld contains a record, the 
Americans of the Great Republic have been in theory the 
boldest Democrats, and in 2:)ractice the most inveterate anti- 
Reformers. There is not an absolute monarchy in Europe 
which has not been, within the last twenty years, a more prac- 
tical reformer than the North American republic, meaning by 
the word reformer the corrector of the evils that grow out of 
a system of government which it is not intended to revolu- 
tionize. How many intelligent North Americans foresaAV, long 
years ago, that the South would take its opportunity to sepa- 
rate from the North ; and yet, when tlie South did separate, 
there does not seem to have been a North American statesman 
who could weigh the circumstances he had so long anticipated. 
And all the while the empire Avhich the Americans already 
possessed was imperiled from visible causes, and none more 
visible than these : 1st, That its extent was already too vast for 
unity of interest; and, 2dly,That its government was too Aveak 
for unity of purpose: the American citizens, fondly colonizing 
Futurity, proclaimed, in every crisis of popular excitement, the 
Monroe doctrine, that the whole continent of America — the 
whole fourth quarter of the globe — was the destined appanage 
of their republic One and Indivisible. 

Again, how common within the last twenty years has been 
the lament of intelligent Americans, that, by the working of 



168 THE OEGAN OF WEIGHT. 

their Constitution, the highest order of citizens, whether in 
character, property, birth, or intellect, was eliminated from the 
action of public life. In how many pamphlets, lectui-es, ora- 
tions, did not reflective Americans mournfully foresee and sol- 
emly foretell that, whenever the commonwealth should be re- 
ally subjected to a critical danger, needing all its highest intel- 
lect to cope with and conquer, the incapable men would be 
thrown uppermost ; yet for that evil, so long foreseen, not one 
practical remedy, even by those who foresaw it, was even sug- 
gested. Year after year, American thinkers have sent forth 
oracular warnings of the certain results of the jobbing and 
corruption which prevailed in all official departments, but nev- 
er did the Legislature enforce a remedy. In the struggle be- 
tween ISTorth and South which wages while I write, all these 
anticipated evils are glaring, are prominent, in that great sec- 
tion of the peoj^le which maintains the principle of the Union 
— incapable generals, corrupt departments, jobbing everywhere 
— and not a single practical reform is suggested by a single 
statesman ! Compare Russia and Austria with North Amer- 
ica; to the two former states the ordeal of war made at once 
manifest their defects, and those defects they have ever since 
been laboring to reform. But will North America reform her 
defects Avhen her war is over ? As yet there is no sign of it. 
The main defect may be summed up very briefly' — it is the 
prevalence of numbers over intellect and character ; and until 
that balance can be made more even. North America will lack 
the organ of weight which is the essential faculty of the prac- 
tical reformer. Monarchies, whether absolute or constitutional 
— republics, whether constitutional or democratical, engender 
the diseases peculiar to their own system, and their dui-ation 
can only consist in calling forth the noblest conservative prin- 
ciple of each several system to the subjugation of the imnciples 
at work to destroy it. It is perfectly clear that the noblest 
conservative principle in any state must be intellect accompa- 
nied with integrity. It is said by a great writer of the last 
century that " honor is the principle of monarchies, virtue of 
republics ;" and certainly a monarchy in which honor is effem- 
inately ignored is, whatever its wealth, as rotten as was the 
monarchy of Lydia ; and a republic in which virtue is cynical- 
ly depressed is, whatever its freedom, as ripe for an ignoble 
grave as was the democracy of Corcyra. 



THE oega:n of weight. 169 

For myself, I own frankly I have no jDrejudice against re- 
publics. In those countries in which there can not exist what 
is commonly called aristocracy, but what I jDrefer to call a class 
of gentlemen who, though they may have no hereditary titles 
or privileges, still constitute an order in the body politic, Avitli 
leisure sufficient for high mental cultivation, with property suf- 
ficient for independence from mercenary calculations and sor- 
did calliogs, with a root in the soil sufficient for a passionate 
resolve to defend its bh-th right of liberty, whether from for- 
eigner, court, or mob, there must sooner or later be either an 
absolute rule, with all its military splendors and civil central- 
ism of iron will, or a popular republic, with all its trading en- 
ergies, and its wear and tear of passionate life. Were I tlie 
native of a land that presented to me only the option between 
these two, I think I should prefer the last. I would rather 
have been an Athenian even in the time of Demosthenes, than 
a Macedonian even in the time of Philip. And if I have no 
prejudice against republics, certainly I can have none against 
the republic of America. Considering that men now living have 
seen its birth, Avho of the Old World can wonder at the pride 
Avith which its citizens regard it ? What other state in his- 
tory ever rose, witliin a period measured by the life of a single 
man, into so great a power among the nations ? On equal 
terms it has met the mightiest monarchies ; no slow growth 
of progressive ages, it came into the world like America her- 
self, a discovery which altered our knowledge of the globe, 
and dated the birtli of a new destiny in the chronicle of tlie 
human race. Blind indeed the statesman who imagines its 
future darkened by the calamities it now imdergoes. Divide 
the vast area of the land as fate may decide, be there in re- 
publican America as many independent sovereign states as in 
monarchical Europe, still the future of America, from the date 
of that disruption, miTst be as potent on the world as has been 
the past of Europe, whether disrupted by the fall of Rome or 
by the death of Charlemagne. Enough of pride for me, as an 
Englishman, to know that whatever state in that large section 
of the globe may best represent the dignity and progress of 
human thought shall haA'c had its fathers in Englislmien, and 
shall utter its edicts in the English tongue. I! a prejudice 
against Americans as Americans ! enough answer to that 
charge for rae and my countrymen that fathers liave no natu- 

*H 



170 THE ORGAN OF WEIGHT. 

ral prejudice against their children ! It is only where Ameri- 
cans have represented some principle or passion utterly antag- 
onistic to the ties of relationshipj, or where the faults which in 
them might be pardonable, and in us would be without ex- 
cuse, have been recommended to our adoption, and, if adopted, 
would have insured our ruin, that we have formed, not a pre- 
judgment to their disfavor, but an after-judgment to our own 
vindication. But, putting all relationship between ourselves 
aud our kinsfolk out of the question, and making ourselves 
dispassionate observers of all that is going on in America, as 
it has gone on before in Europe — viz., the political separation 
of states geographically divided — I consider it a puerile ped- 
dling with all the issues at stake in one of the mightiest revo- 
lutions this earth has known, to consider that the process of 
disintegration can terminate with the separate empire of two 
divisions. As each state grows populous enough, and strong 
enough, and rich enough, to have interests distinct from other 
states with which for a time it is amalgamated, such state will 
split itself asunder, and America will have at least as many 
sovereignties as Europe. That is but a question of time, and 
time in America moves faster than it moved in Europe a thou- 
sand years ago. The practical question as concerns the future 
of America is this, "Which of these several states — partly by 
the accident of geographical situation, and principally by the 
operation, whether of the forms of government or the influences 
resulting from the spirit and modes of thought which compose 
the moral atmosphere of communities — will obtain the largest 
share of dignity and power ? So far as geography is concern- 
ed, the question is easily answered. That which is most cen- 
tral as regards influence over its neighbors, or that which has 
the widest sea-board as regards commerce with the foreigner 
— that which geographically most resembles France, or that 
which geographically most resembles England. So far as the 
spirit of institutions is concerned, that which gives the fairest 
play to the union of educated intellect with whatever moral 
principle — call it honor, patriotism, public virtue — may concen- 
trate the educated intellect upon the disdain of private inter- 
est in comparison with the public weal ; and create a Public 
Opinion, which, in the more favorable sense of the word aris- 
tocracy, may aristocratize the action of democracy, and demand 
in those Avho dominate its afl:airs the highest types of the na- 
tional probity and culture. 



THE ORGAN OF WEIGHT. 171 

I return from a digression which the interest that the des- 
tinies of republican America inspire in all political inquirers 
may suffice to excuse, serving, as it does, to illustrate the prop 
ositions out of which it has grown. 

As it is always well to secure a confidential adviser in one 
whose intellectual bias, differing from our own, tends to sup- 
ply our defects, so, in the affiiirs of life, he who feels that his 
tendency of thought is overmuch toward the speculative — who, 
rapt in prognostics of the future, does not heed the signs of 
the Moment slipping under his feet — will find his safety in 
habitually consulting one whose tendency is toward the prac- 
tical, and who determines his plans by the weather of the day 
rather than by meteorological calculations of the influences 
that will afiect the barometer ten years hence ; so, on the other 
hand, he who, clear-sighted for things close before his eye, has 
a shortness of vision for things afar, should join to himself an 
adviser who, commanding a wider scope, not only expands, 
but rectifies his calculations — not only elevates, but assures 
his aims. 

The very highest order of common sense necessitates gen- 
ius ; the very highest order of genius necessitates common 
sense ; but between the very highest order of either there in- 
terpose numerous degrees of genius and of common sense. 

How often have I seen a man of genius over-enthusiastic or 
over-refining, of whom I have said, " What a masterpiece of 
intellect that creature would be if he w^ere but coupled to a 
sober, practical, business-like adviser, whose pace his agility 
indeed might quicken, but wiiose weight would hold him back 
from wasting his breath in capers, and bruising his thews in 
stumbles !" 

And, on the other hand, how often have I seen a man singu- 
larly practical, whose common sense in all ixrgent matters, 
forced suddenly upon him, won ascendency, for the moment, 
over more brilliant competitors, and who yet, from the want, 
Avhether of that warmth or that foresight, that ennobling as- 
piration toward lofty truths, or that cordial symj^athy with 
the hearts and hopes of mankind, which give to genius its 
force and its charm, disappoints and deceives us in the long 
run, incompleting his uses, stinting his wisdom, stopping short 
of that standard of greatness to which he miglit otherwise 
have grown : and again I have said to myself, " This man could 



172 THE ORGAN OF AYEIGHT. 

have been the first of his age if he could have been as discern- 
ing for the age as he is acute for the moment ; if his strong 
common sense had associated itself with some vivid comrade 
of genius, Avho -would have brightened the eye and quickened 
the pulse of his reason." 

For, after all, t^be mind of a master of action is consummate 
in proportion as it comprehends the two requisites in the mind 
of a master of science, viz., the cautious circumspection which 
attaches it to the practical, and the active imagination which, 
out of the practical, ascends to the theoretical. A theory is 
an illusion imless it be founded on the practical. The prac- 
tical is fruitless unless it culminate in theory. Weight and 
causality are organs that should be in harmonious develop- 
ment with each other, whether in action or in contemplation : 
facts immediately before us, being duly weighed, and traced 
to their causes in the past through calculations v>-hich suffice 
to justify those rational speculations on the future that consti- 
tute the theories of the phirosoj)her and form the policy of the 
statesman. 



ESSAY XVII. 
f.jjr lijmpntlirtir itBniprrnniBEt. 

It does not follow, because a man relieves a misfortune, that 
he sympathizes with the sufferer. The Stoics, indeed, while 
they enjoined beneficence, forbade sympathy: according to 
them, in putting your hand into your pockets, you must take 
care not to disturb the folds of your heart. Rochefoucauld, 
who certainly was not a Stoic, and may rather be considered 
the most brilliant of the modern followers of Epicurus, ap- 
pears in tliis respect to be in agreement with Zeno. In the 
portrait of himself which he has sketched with the clear broad 
strokes of a master's hand, he says that "he is little sensible 
to pity; that there is nothing he would not do for a sufferer, 
even to the show of compassion, for the wretched are such 
fools that the very show of compassion does them all the good 
in the world. But," adds this polite philosopher, " I hold that 
one should be contented to s/ioiv, and guard one's self careful- 
ly from feeling^ pity : it is a passion good for nothing in a 
well-constituted mind {cm dedans d'une cime bien-faite), which 
only serves to weaken the heart, and which one ought to leave 
to the common people, Avho, doing nothing by reason, have 
need of passion to induce them to do any thing." 

Certainly most of us have known in life persons who are 
ever ready to perform a charitable action, but from whose lips 
there never fills the balm of a sympathizing word. They do 
not even, like Rochefoucauld, simulate the pity which they do 
not feel. Are you ill, and can not afi:brd a doctor? they will 
pay for him ; are you pining for the anodyne of a tender look? 
you shrink back more sick at heart than before from the chill 
of their hard brows. 

On the other hand, there are persons whose nervous system 
is tremulously alive to the aspect of pain ; they will give you 
sigh for sigh, and groan for groan ; they sympathize with you 



174 THE SYMPATHETIC TEMPERAMENT. 

sincerely for the moment: as soon as you are out of sight, they 
forget that you exist. Put yourself in their way, and rely 
upon their sympathy ; when out of their way, never count 
upon their aid. Benevolence is not always beneficence. To 
wish you may he benefited is one thing, to benefit you is an- 
other. A man who is beneficent without sympathy, though 
he may not be a pleasant acquaintance, must be a good man ; 
but a man who is sympathizing without beneficence may be a 
very bad man. For there is a readiness of sympathy which 
comes from tlie impressionability of the jDhysical system — a 
vibration of the nerves reacting on no chord of duty, and 
awakening no response in a generous impulse of the heart ; 
and a man may not be the less profoundly wicked because he 
possesses an excitable nervous temperament. 

Alexander Pherasus, tlie most ruthless of tyrants, so entered 
into the sorrows enacted on the stage, that a tragedy moved 
him to tears. It is to him that Pope alludes in his Prologue 
to Addison's " Cato :" 

"Tyrants no move their savage nature kept^ 
And foes to virtue wondered why tliey wept." 

Unfortunately, Alexander Pherteus, in spite of his weeping, 
kept his "nature," Avhich was probably not constitutionally 
" savage." A man of a temperament readily impressionable, 
if accompanied, as it generally is, with a lively fancy, brings 
home to himself the sorrows or the dangers which are repre- 
sented to his senses, and for the moment realized by his fancy. 
And thus it may be from fear for himself that a tyrant may 
weep at the representation of sufferings which, on the stage, 
depicts the power of Fate over even the crowned head and 
the sceptred hand. Now the same nervous temperament 
which is efteminately susceptible to this egotistical kind of 
sympathy may be very subject to fear, and fear is akin to cru- 
elty ; for fear is in the conviction of some weakness in him 
who feels it, compared with the power from which he appre- 
hends an injury ; and no saying is more true than that aphor- 
ism of Seneca, " Omnis enini ex infirmitate feritas est'''' — "All 
cruelty springs from weakness." I think we have a striking 
example of these propositions in Nero, when his character is 
metaphysically analyzed. His was the excitable, impulsive 
nervous organization — tremulously alive to the effects of mu- 
sic, poetry, the drama, spectacle — emotionally plastic to what- 



THE SYMPATHETIC TEMPERAMENT. 175 

soever influence appealed for the moment to his senses. Thus, 
in early youth, a cultivator of the softest arts, and no cause of 
suspicion and terror yet maddening his restless imagination, 
he was doubtless sincere when, the sentence on a criminal be- 
ing brought to him to sign, he exclaimed, piteously, ^'•Vellem 
nescire literas P^ — " Would to Heaven that I had not learned 
to write !" But the same susceptibility to immediate influ- 
ences which, when fresh from the contem^ilation of serene and 
harmless images, made him impulsively merciful, subjugated 
him first to sensual pleasures, rendered monstrous in propor- 
tion as his imagination, on brooding over them, became itself 
diseased ; and, when the whole character w^as unmanned by 
the predominance of the sensual and brute-like over the intel- 
lectual and moral elements in man, all that was noblest in man- 
hood, in exciting the internal consciousness of his own infirmi- 
ty or M'eakness, excited his fear ; for in silently rebuking, they 
seemed silently to threaten him — and thus the voluptuous tri- 
fler was scared into the relentless butcher. Yet, impressiona- 
ble to immediate circumstance at the last as at the first, all the 
compassionate softness he had once known for the sentenced 
criminal, whose doom he had shrunk from signing, returns to 
settle on himself. When the doom which had shocked his 
nerves to contemplate for another stands before him as his 
own, he weeps to behold, and his hand trembles to inflict it. 
Just as in his youth sympathy (being nothing more than the 
vividness with which he could bring home to his fancy the 
pain to be inflicted on another) made him forget the crime 
that was to be punished in pity for the criminal that Avas to be 
slain, so now he wholly lost sight of his own crimes in the an- 
guish of contemplating his own death. And when, in forget- 
fulness of empire abused and in remembrance of art cultivated, 
he exclaimed, " What an ai'tist in me is about to perish !"* he 
explained the enigma of his own nature. Besides the tastes 
which his hostile historians accord to him in painting and 

* " Q^caIis artifex pereo /" Artifex means something more than musician, 
by which word it is rendered in our current translations, and even something 
more than artist, by which it is rendered in the text. Artifex means an art- 
ificer, a contriver ; and I suspect that, in using the word, Nero was thinking 
of the hydraulic musical contrivance which had occupied his mind amid all 
the terrors of the conspiracy which destroyed him — a contrivance that really 
seems to have been a very ingenious application of science to art, which we 
might not have lost if Nero had been only an artificer and not an emperor. 



176 TUB SYJIPATIIETIC TEMPERAMENT. 

sculpture, and a talent for poetry, Avliich Suetonius is at some 
pains to vindicate from the charge of plagiarism, eighteen 
hundred laurel crowns had Athens bestowed on him as a mu- 
sician ! If his career had been a musician's and not an empe- 
ror's, he might indeed have been a voluptuary : a musician not 
unfrequeutly is ; but a soft-tempered, vain, praise-seeking in- 
fant of art, studying harmony, and nervously shocked by dis- 
cord, as musicians genei'ally are! 

The great French Revolution abounds with examples more 
familiar of the strange mixture of sentimental tenderness with 
remorseless cruelty, which may be found allied in that impres- 
sionable nervous temperament as susceptible to the rapport of 
tlie present time as a hysterical somnambule is to the will of 
an electro-biologist. 

Many years a^o I met with a Frenchman who had been an 
active, if subordinate ministrant in the Reign of Terror. In 
Petitot's Collection of Papers illustrative of that j^eriod, we 
find him warmly commended to Robespierre as a young patri- 
ot, ready to sacrifice on the altar of his country as many heca- 
tombs of fellow-countrymen as the Goddess of Reason might- 
require. When I saw this ex-ofiicial of the tribunal of blood, 
"which was in a London drawing-room, where his antecedents 
were not generally known, he was a very polite, gray-haired 
gentleman of the old school of manners, addicted, like Cardi- 
nal Richelieu and Warren Hastings, to the composition of 
harmless A'erses. I have seldom met with any one who more 
instantaneously charmed a social circle by his rapid and in- 
stinctive sympathy with the humors of all around him — gay 
with the gay, serious with the serious, easy with the young, 
caressingly respectful to the old. Fascinated by the charm 
of his address, a fine lady wliis2Dered to me, " This, indeed, is 
that exquisite French manner of which we have heard so 
much, and seen so little. Nothing nowadays like the polish 
of the old regimeP 

Marveling at the contrast between the actions for which 
this amiable gentleman had been commended to Robespierre 
and the manners by which he might have seduced the Furies, 
I could not refrain, in the frankness of my temper at that ear- 
lier period of my life, from insinuating the question how a man 
of so delicate a refinement, and so happy a turn for innocent 
poems in the style of" Gentil Bernard," could ever have been 



THE SYMPATHETIC TEJIPEK.-vilENT. 177 

led away into a participation of what I mildly termed the " ex- 
cesses of the Revolution." 

"Ah!" quoth this velvet-pawed tiger, '•'•que voulez-vous ? 
I always obey my heart. I sympathize with whatever goes 
on before me. Am I to-day with people Avho cry '•A bas les 
aristocrates P ga me tnonte la tete! pa tii'echmiffe le sang! I 
cry out with them, '^4 has les aristocrates P Am I to-morrow 
with people Avho cry '^4 bas la guillotine P — eJh bien! my eyes 
moisten ; I embrace my enemies — I sob out, '^1 has la gicillo- 
tineP Sympathy is the law of my nature. Ah! if you had 
known Monsieur Robespierre!" 

" Hem !" said I, " that is an honor I should not have coveted 
if I had lived in his day. But I have hitherto supposed that 
Monsieur Robespierre was somewhat unsocial, reserved, frig- 
id ; was he, nevertheless, a man M'hose sins against his kind 
are to be imputed to the liveliness of his sympathies ?" 

" Sir, jiardon me if I say that you would uot have asked 
that question if you had studied the causes ofdiis ascendency, 
or read with due attention his speeches. How can you sup- 
pose that a man uot eloquent, as compared with his contem- 
poraries, could have mastered his audience except by sym- 
pathizing with them ? When they were for blood, he sym- 
pathized with them ; when they began to desire the reign of 
blood to cease, he sympathized also. In his desk were found 
David's plans of acadeiiiies for infancy and asylums for age. 
He was just about to inaugurate the Reign of Love when the 
conspiracy against him s^'ept him down the closing abyss of 
the Reign of Terror. He was only a day too late in express- 
ing his sympathy with the change in the public mind. Can you 
suppose that he who, though ambitious, threw up his profession 
rather than subscribe to the j^unishment of death — he whose 
favorite author was Jean Jacques, '■leplus aimant des Jio^nmes' 
— that he had any inherent propensity to cruelty? No! 
Cruelty had become the spirit of the time, with which the im- 
pressionability of his nervous temperament compelled him to 
sympathize. And if he were a sterner exterminator than 
others, it was not because he Avas more cruel than they, but 
more exposed to danger. And as he identified himself with 
his country, so self-preservation was in his mind the rigoroiis 
duty of a patriot. "Wherever you had placed him. Monsieur 
Robespierre would always have been the man of his day. If 

H2 



178 THE SYMrATl]]iTlC TEMPEKAME^'T, 

he had been an Englislimaii, sir, he would have been at the 
head of all the philantliropical societies — come in for a large 
constituency on philanthropical principles — and been the most 
respectable, as he Avas always the most incorruptible, of public 
men. ' Ce jMuvre M. Robespierre ! comme il est meconnuP 
If he had but lived a month or two longer, he would have re- 
vived the age of gold!" 

Certainly, during that excitable epoch, tenderness of senti- 
ment and atrocity of conduct Avere not combined in '■'• ce pauvre 
M. JRohespierre^'' alone. The favorite amusement of one of the 
deadliest of his felloAv-murderers was the rearing of doves. 
He said that the contemplation of their innocence made the 
charm of his existence, in consoling him for the wickedness 
of men. Couthon, at the commencement of the Revolution, 
was looked upon as the mildest creature to be found out of a 
pastoral. He had 2^ figure cVange, heavenly with com])assion- 
ate tenderness. Even when he had attained to the height of 
his homicidal celebrity, he was carried to the ISTational As- 
sembly or the Jacobite Club (I say carried, for, though young, 
he had lost the use of his limbs) fondling little lapdogs, which 
he nestled in his bosom. An anecdote is told of one of his 
confrhres, who Avas as fatal to men and as loving to dogs as 
himself, that Avhen a distracted wife, who had pleaded to him 
in vain for her Inisband's life, in retiring from his presence, 
chanced to tread on his favorite spaniel's tail, he exclaimed, 
" Good heavens, madam, have you, then, no humanity ?" 

In these instances of tenderness fon^brutes we see the opera- 
tion of that sympathy which, being diverted from men, still 
must have a vent, and lavishes itself on the inferior races, to 
whom its sentimental possessor shoAvs all kindness, because 
from them he apprehends no mischief. We need not, hoAV- 
ever, resort to the annals of the French Revolution for ex- 
amples of this warj^ed direction of pity or affection. Every 
day we see venerable spinsters Avho delight in the moral mur- 
der of scandal, and guillotine a reputation between every cup 
of tea, yet full of benignant charities to parrots, or dogs, or 
cats, or monkeys. Those venerable spinsters were, no doubt, 
once fond-hearted little girls, and, while in their teens, Avere 
as much shocked at the idea of assassinating the character 
of jDretty women, and poisoning the honor of unsuspecting 
hearths, as they are noAV at the barbarity of pinching Fidele's 
delicate paAV, or singeing Tabitha's inoffensive Avhiskers. 



THE SYMPATHETIC TElIPERA^fENT. 179 

There is, then, a kind of morbid sensibility Avhich is not af- 
fectation nor hypocrisy, as it is often esteemed, but is as per- 
fectly genuine as any other symptom of irritable nerves, and 
is Avholly distinct from healthful goodness of heart ; and this 
kind of sensibility is often united with a temperament that is 
impressionable, through the nerves, to the influences immedi- 
ately and sensuously brought to bear on it, and is so far sym- 
pathetic ; but from that very impressionability is easily sub- 
jected to morbid or even criminal misdirections ; for, as Adam 
Smith has very well argued in his " Theory of Moral Senti- 
ments" — " Sympathy, though its meaning was perhaps origi- 
nally the same as j^ity or compassion, is a word that may^now, 
without much impropriety, be made use of to denote our fel- 
low-feeling with any passion whatever." And the reader will 
have observed that it is in that sense that I employ the word. 
A person thus nervously impressionable may, from the very 
intensity of his regard for himself, easily transport his fancy to 
the situation of others, so long as he can picture himself in 
those situations, or so long as they appear to aftect his com- 
fort or safety. And what with the impressionability, what 
with the fancy, what with the self-regard, he will be peculiarly 
susceptible to fear, and fear will render him peculiarly prone 
to cruelty. Yet, with all that evinces hardness of heart, he 
may retain to the last a certain softness and sensibility of 
nerves — weep like the tyrant of Pheraja at the sorrow in a 
play, fondle lapdogs like Couthon — in short, while the mascu- 
line attributes of humanity seem obliterated, we shall find him 
human through a morbidity of sentiment which belongs to the 
humanity of women. 

Still, though this impressionable organization is not there- 
fore necessarily an index of goodness, it is much more frequent 
in the good than in the bad. I have hitherto glanced only at 
its diseased conditions. In its healthful development and ac- 
tion it imparts to vii'tue that exquisite tenderness which dis- 
tinguishes the archetype of beautified humanity from that ar- 
tificial mechanism by which the Stoic sought to fashion forth 
a compassionless, emotionless ethical machine. 

When the beneficent man seems to feel not only for, but 
with the fellow-creature he benefits, enters into his heart, steals 
away the pride that might otherwise reject a charity, whispers 
hope to the grief that might otherwise despair of comfort, 



ISO THE SYMPATHETIC TEMPEKAMEXT. 

makes himself one with his brother man, through sympathy, 
before soaring aloft from him as the dispenser of favors through 
a principle of the duty -which the prosperous owe to the af- 
flicted, then Virtue indeed seems clad in the alluring beauty 
which Plato says she would take in the eyes of man, could her 
image be rendered visible. 

Beneficence in itself is godlike ; but beneficence alone is but 
a godlike statue — an effigies embodying a divine idea, but an 
effigies in marble. Add to beneficence symi^athy, and the 
statue takes bloom and life. Xor in beneficence alone has 
symjDathy its heavenly charm. In the equal commerce of life 
the benefactor is needed seldom, the sympathizer is longed for 
always. Be our joy but in a momentary sunbeam, be our sad- 
ness but the gloom of a passing cloud, how that sunbeam lights 
lip the whole landscape when reflected in the sympathizer's 
smile, and how the cloud, when its shadow falls on the sympa- 
thizer's brow, " turns forth its silver lining on the night !" 
Happy, thrice happy he who has secured to his life one who 
feels as if living in it ! And perhaps this is not an uncommon 
lot except to uncommon natures. Did Shakspeare and Milton 
find hearts that understood the mysterious depths of their own 
well enough to sympathize ? If so, it does not appear in their 
scant, yet (for such knowledge perhaps) their sufficing biog- 
raphies. But Shakspeares and Miltons are as medals by Avhich 
^Nature celebrates her most signal triumphs, and of which she 
coins no duplicates. Doubtless there are millions of excellent 
Browns and Smiths who may find second selves in other 
Browns and other Smiths. Goethe, speaking of himself, says, 
with that manly yet somewhat mournful self-dependence which 
forms one of his most impressive characteristics, " To desire 
that others should sympathize with us is a great folly. I never 
desired any such thing. I always considered man, in his indi- 
vidual capacity, a being to be inquired into and observed in all 
his pectfliarities, but I certainly did not expect any sympathy." 
Folly or not the desire of sympathy may be, but perhaps it is 
the desire strongest and most common in youthful poets. 
Their ideal of love is indeed, for the most part, shaped and col- 
ored by their craving for that sympathy which they imagine 
the beloved one alone can give. Yet certainly Goethe, speak- 
ing as Goethe, is right. No one has a right to expect sympa- 
thy for himself as poet, as author, or artist ; for, in that cnjiac- 



THE SYMPATHETIC TEMPER AMEXT. 181 

ity, his life is iu a, world of his own, with which no other is fa- 
miliar — into which no other can find a home. In that world 
there goes on a perpetual movement — a rapid succession of 
scenes and images, of incidents and events, of which he is as 
sole a spectator as if to him alone were vouchsafed the vision 
of all that inhabit and interest the star which was ascendant 
at his birth, and influences the structure of his mind and the 
mysteries of his fate. 

But no one is all poet, author, artist; every demigod of gen- 
ius has also his side as man ; and as man, though not as poet, 
author, artist, he may reasonably yearn for sympathy. Such 
a sympathy, so restricted, will probably not be denied to him. 
It has been said that the wife of Racine had so little partici- 
pation in the artistic life of her spouse, that she had never even 
read his plays. But as Racine was tenderly attached to her, 
and of a nature too sensitive not to have needed some sort of 
sympathy in those to whom he attached himself, and as, by all 
accounts, his marriage was a very happy one, so it is fair to 
presume that the symi^athy withheld from his artistic life was 
maintained in the familiar domestic every-day relationship of 
his positive existence, and that he did not ask the heart of 
Madame Racine to beat in unison with his own over the grow- 
ing beauties of those children whom she was not needed to 
bring into the world. Why ask her to shed a mother's tears 
over the fate of BrUannicus^ or to recoil with a mother's hor- 
ror fi'om the guilt o^ PhMre? they w^ere no offspring of hers. 
Men of action have, however, this decided advantage over men 
of letters and contemplation, that as their objects can not be 
achieved without the association and aid of others, so they se- 
cure sympathy to their intellectual no less than to their mate- 
rialistic being. The sympathy of thousands, of millions, goes 
with each movement of genius in a great leader of action, be 
he a captain in war or a counselor in peace. For action influ- 
ences the outward and immediate fortunes of men, and where 
self-interest hangs on another, there egotism itself engenders 
sympathy. Doubtless there were thousands in England who 
felt much in common with Cromwell's secretary, where there 
Avas one who felt in common with the blind schoolmaster com- 
posing " Paradise Lost." 

Therefore, not only for extension of human knowledge, but 
for interchange of healthful emotion, I have always thought it 



182 THE SYMPATHETIC TEMPERAMENT. 

well for the man whose main pursuit must be carried on 
through solitary contemplation, to force himself to some active 
interest in common with ordinary mortals, even though it be 
but in the culture of a farm. He will be more reconciled to 
the utter want of sympathy in the process by which the germ 
of a thought grows up into flower within his own secret mind, 
if, when he goes into the market-place, he finds and I'ecipro- 
cates abundant sympathy in the eflect of the weather on hay 
and barley. 

And though the poet may not find sympathy from others in 
all that pertains to himself exclusively as poet, yet he must 
have sympathy with others in what they think, feel, and do, or 
in the world of that art Avhich, amid the cool of its sequestered 
groves and its choirs of ideal beings, separates him from the 
crowd, he will never so soar from the earth as to strike the 
stars. Horace, from whom I have just been stealing the 
thoughts, as gipsies steal the children of the rich, exchanging 
their fine garments for humble rags — Horace is himself an il- 
lustration of the truth I would enforce. For what deep and 
lively interest in all that concerns his age, his land — what 
stores of knowledge gathered from j^ractical commune with 
mankind, animate and enrich the songs conceived amid the 
solitudes of Ustica ! Genius in the poet, like the nomad of 
Arabia, ever a wanderer, still ever makes a home where the 
well or the palm-tree invites it to pitch the tent. Perpetually 
passing out of himself and his own positive circumstantial con- 
dition of being into other hearts and into other conditions, the 
poet obtains his knowledge of human life by transporting his 
own life into the lives of others. He who would create a 
character must, while creating, move and breathe in his own 
creation ; he who would express a passion must, while express- 
ing, feel his own heart beating in the type of man which the 
passion individualizes and incarnates : thus sympathy is to the 
poet the indispensable element of his knowledge. Before he 
has experience of the actual world of men, he establishes his 
inquisitive impassioned sympathy with Nature, affected by her 
varying aspects with vague melancholy or mysterious joy. 
Thus, all great poets commence with lively and sensuous im- 
pressionability to natural objects and phenomena, though the 
highest order of poets, in proportion as life imfolds itself, as- 
cend from sympatliy with groves and streams to sympathy 



THE SYMPATHETIC TEMPEEAilENT. 183 

with the noblest image of the Maker — spiritual, immortal Man! 
and man's character, and man's passions, man's jDlace and fate 
in creation, move and interest their genius in maturer years, 
as in childhood it was moved by the whisper of winds, the 
tremor of leaves, the jjlay of the glinting sunbeam, the gloom 
of the darkening cloud. Schiller, in his exquisite poem "Die 
Ideale" ("The Ideals"), speaks of a time in his grand career 
'■'■passed away with the suns that gilt the path of his youth." 
" When to me," he exclaims — " when to me lived the tree, the 
rose ; v/heu to me sang the silver fall of the fountain ;' Avhen 
from the echo of my life the soulless itself took feeling." But 
in the fuller and ampler development of his ever-progressive 
genius, Schiller passes onward, from the Ideals alone, to sing 
the " Ideal and Life" (" Das Ideal und das Leben") ; and in 
this poem, which constitutes the core of his last completest 
philosophy, the two existences unite in the crowning result of 
perfected art, life yieldhig the materials through Avhich the 
Ideal accomplishes its archetypal form. From life the raw 
block is laboriously lifted out of the mine that imbedded it, 
stroke by stroke sculptured into the shape which may clothe 
an idea, until the final touch of the chisel leaves the thought 
disengaged from the matter, and the block, hewn from Nature, 
takes from Art both its form and its soul. 

In oratory, which has in its essence much that is akin to 
Poetry, though, as it should never depart from the practical, it 
differs from poetry in substance as well as in the mode of ex- 
jDression — in oratory, who does not observe how much success 
depends on the sympathy Avhieh the orator must feel in his au- 
dience before he can extort it from them ? It was thus once 
very truthfully and very finely said by Mr. Pitt, in answer to 
the complimentary charge that his eloquence deceived and led 
away the assembly he addressed, " Eloquence is in the assem- 
bly, not in the speaker ;" meaning thereby that the speaker is 
effective in proportion as he gives utterance to the thought or 
the feeling which prevails in the assembly. 

As the sympathetic temperament lends grace and lovability 
to virtue, and is the normal constitution of genius, so, in the 
ordinary social world, it is generally found strongly evinced in 
those who please universally. But in tliem, the brilliant play- 
mates of society, seizing and reflecting the interest which oc- 
cupies the moment — the gift, unregulated by the genius which 



184 THE SYMPATHETIC TEilPEEAHENT. 

extracts permanent uses from fleeting impressions, or undisci- 
plined by the virtue which habitually links sympathetic im- 
pulses into the harmony of benignant conduct, may lead those 
Avho possess it into frivolities and errors, just as it has led men 
with nerves irritably weak and fancies morbidly restless into 
the gravest crimes ; sympathy being thus reduced to an over- 
facile impressionability to the examples and circumstances that 
immediately afiect the sympathizer. 

The elegant Alcibiades of the drawing-room, who can at 
once make himself at home in every circle, only obtains his so- 
cial success through the quickness of his constitutional sympa- 
thy with the humors of those around him, passing from each 
to each with a rapidity which, to men engaged in graver 
thought, seems like a mental sleight-of-hand. The ready ad- 
miration which follows this pleasing talent for society too oft- 
en allures its possessor from steadfast devotion to objects for 
which labor is needed, and to which all returns in praise must 
be far more slow in coming, and far less cordially given when 
they do come. Hence persons singularly agreeable in all those 
mixed societies which combine for the purpose of holiday 
amusement or relaxation, do not often achieve that solid dis- 
tinction which is obtained by men on whom Nature has less 
generously bestowed the endowments of which the charmers 
of society are the amiable spendthrifts. 

The touching and exquisitely beautiful line in which Cowley 
alludes to the unprofitable favor of the Muses, applies (at all 
events nowadays) with far more truth to the Graces — 

"Where once such fairies dance no grass doth ever grow." 

The darlings of the drawing-room are those whom the dis- 
pensers of official power are delighted to meet — are those of 
whom the most respectable members of the class that form 
public opinion are proud to gossip) ; but do they aim at any 
thing solid — any position- which ofiicial jDOwer can give, and 
public opinion ratify ? The dullest drone who, at all events, 
comes out of a hive, has a better chance for obtaining credit 
for industry than the dazzling butterflies whom we only know 
as the flutterers over flowers. Precisely because we so con- 
tentedly allow a drawing-room value to the man whose sym- 
pathies Avith the drawing-room are more vivid than ours, we 
believe that out of the drawing-room he counts as zero. Hence- 



THE SYMPATHETIC TEMPEKAMENT. 185 

his amour projyre courted by the highest in directions which 
cost him no trouble, rebuffed, by the highest and lowest alike, 
in directions which would cost him a great deal of trouble, 
this favorite of the Graces accommodates his ambition to those 
successes with which graver men do not vie, and which graver 
men do not envy, simply because they look on such triumphs 
as certain indications of failure in the objects which they covet 
for themselves. They continue their own course with a stead- 
fast eye to tlie goal, and, looking back, cast a gracious smile 
on the male Atalantas who could indeed^ntstrip them by a 
bound, but who halt m the race to pick np the golden apples. 

Therefore I say to every young man at that critical age in 
whicli we are all most impressionable to immediate influences, 
most sympathizing witli fugitive emotions, " Consider within 
}onrself what it is that you really covet ! What is it that con- 
stitutes such a Avant, whether in your intellectual or moral be- 
ing, as you must more or less satisfy, or your whole life will 
be one regret? Is it for a something to be won through com- 
petition with those who, in Academe, Forum, or Mart, do the 
business of this Avorld, or through a superior grace in the atti- 
tude you assume among its idlers? Tlie one object necessi- 
tates labor, the other is best gained by ease. Alcibiades him- 
self could not xmite both. Look at Alcibiades — consider all 
that birth, fortune, beauty, genius gave to him ; and does his- 
tory record a career more incomplete, a renown more equivo- 
cal? Take your choice — do not seek to unite life's business 
w^ith life's holiday. Each may have place in turn ; but re- 
member that the business leads to distinction, and the holiday 
away from it." 

Still, I do not profess, in this or any other matter, to demand 
from all varieties of mind and position monotonous conformity 
to an arbitrary standard. The vast majority of men can af- 
ford few holidays after they leave school; but there are others 
to whom, on leaving school, all life becomes one holiday. A 
really fine gentleman, though he be nothing more than a fine 
gentleman, is a creature to be admired — he is one of the lilies 
of the field who toil not, neither do they spin ; yet, if the corn- 
sheaves liave their value, the lilies have their glory. A man 
who has no object and no ambition except to charm, is cer- 
tainly a much more attractive object in creation than a man 
who has no object and no ambition at all, unless it be to of- 



18G THE SYMPATHETIC TEMPEEA:MENT. 

fend. Despise a lily as you will, you would rather have in 
your garden a lily than a nettle. 

The Italians, among whom natural grace and charm of man- 
ner are more generally diffused than among any other people 
with whom it has been my lot to have intercourse, possess a 
familiar word by which they denote a person pecuharly lova- 
ble and agreeable — '•'• simjKitico f^ viz., a person with whom 
you can reciprocate sympathy. And to him whose range ex- 
tends no Avider than a well-bred society — in which it is no 
blamable ambition,.io wish for affection or applause — I recom- 
mend an attentive study of all that is signified in that soft 
Italian Avord. 

Finally, then, the impressionable sympathetic temperament 
has its good or its evil in proportion to the strength or infirm- 
ity of the character in which it is found, and the healthful or 
morbific nature of the influences to which it is the more habit- 
ually subjected, resembling in this respect those figures in as- 
trology Avhich take their signification from the signs with 
which they are conjoined — doubling evil if conjoined to evil, 
doubling good if conjoined to good. 

It may, indeed, be said that sympathy exists in all minds, as 
Faraday has discovered that magnetism exists in all metals ; 
but a certain temperature is required to develop the hidden 
property, whether in the metal or the mind. 



ESSAY XVIII, 

Xiff; Df linrnittj anil (fynttwliutinn. 

If the Xew Testament were divested of its sacred character, 
what depths of wisdom thinkers would still discover in the 
spirit of its precepts ! That insistance upon Faith as an all- 
important element of man's spiritual nature, to Avhich some 
philosophers have directed their assaults, philosophers more 
noble and profound would then recognize as essential, not 
more to the religion that claims it, than to the unfolding and 
uplifting of all our noblest faculties and powers. For .when 
we come to consider our intellectual organization, we find 
that, for all our achievements, there is an absolute necessity 
of faith in something not yet actually proved by our experi- 
ence, and that something involves an archetype of grandeur, 
or nobleness, or beauty, toward which each thought that leads 
on to a higlier thought insensibly aspires. Before even a 
mechanician, proceeding step by step through the linked prob- 
lems of mathematical science, can arrive at a new invention, 
he must have faith in a truth not yet proved ; for that Avliich 
has already been proved can not be an invention. It is the 
same with every original poet and artist — he must have faith 
in a possible beauty not yet made visible on earth, before that 
beauty for the first time dawns on his verse or blooms on his 
canvas. It is the same, perhaps yet more remarkably, with 
every great man of action — with the hero, the statesman, the 
patriot, the reformer. " Nemo vir magnus sine aliquo afiiatu 
divino unquam." I may add that no one :\vhom that divine 
afflatus inspired ever failed to believe in it. Thus faith, which 
is demanded for a religion, and without which, indeed, a re- 
ligion could not exist, is but the kindling of that sacred par- 
ticle of fire which does not confine its. light and its warmth to 
the altar on which it glows. And Avhere that faith is first, as 



188 FAITH AND CHAPaTY. 

it were, pledged to the sublimcst and loveliest ideals which 
man's imagination can conceive, viz., the omnipresence of a 
Creator who pei-mits us to call him Father, and the assurance 
of an immortality more confirmed by auv own capacities to 
comprehend and aspire to it, than it would be if, without such 
capacities, a ghost appeared at our bedside every night to pro- 
claim it ; for would a ghost make a dog believe he was im- 
mortal ? — where, I say, faith is pledged to those beliefs which, 
with few exceptions, the highest orders of human intellect 
have embraced, it is the property of that faith, if it be not cor- 
rupted into superstition nor incensed, into fanaticism, to com- 
municate a kindred nobleness to all other ideals conceived in 
the quickened heart and approached by the soaring genius. 
Nay, even where men of considerable mental powers have en- 
tirely rejected all religious belief, and, so far as a soul and a 
Deity are concerned, refused to sutler a thought to escape 
from the leading-strings of that over-timorous Reason which, 
if alone consulted, would keep us babies to our grave — those 
men have invariably been compelled, by the instincts of their 
intellect, to have faith in something else not proven, not prov- 
able, much more hard to believe than the wonders they put 
aside as incredible. Lucretius has faith in the fortuitous con- 
currence of his atoms, and Laplace in his crotchet of Nebulos- 
ity. Neither those theories, nor any theory which the mind 
of man can devise, could start fally into day without faith in 
some truths that lie yet among shadows unpierced by experi- 
ence; and therefore, to all philosophy as to all fancy, to all art, 
to all civilization, faith in that which, if divined by the imagina- 
tion, is not among the facts to which the reason confines its 
scope, is the restless, productive, vivifying, indispensable prin- 
ciple. And there Avould be an unspeakable wisdom in writings, 
even were they not inspired, which lend to this principle of 
faith a definite guidance toward certain simple propositions, 
easily comprehended by an infant or a letterless peasant, and 
which, if argued against, certainly can not be disproved by 
the ablest casuists ; propositions which tend to give a sense 
of support and consolation under grief, hope amid the terrors 
of despair, and place before th« mind, in all conceivable situa- 
tions, an image of ineffiible patience, fortitude, self-sacrifice — 
which, in commanding our reverence, still enthralls our love 
and invites oi;r imitation. Thus Faith, steadied and converged 



FAITH AND CHARITY. 189 

toward distinct objects be)''ond the realm of the senses, loses 
itself no more among the phantom shadows of the Unknown 
and Unconjecturable, but is left free to its worldly uses in this 
positive world — believing always in some truth for the mor- 
row beyond the truth of the day, and thus advancing the grad- 
ual march of science; believing in types of beauty not yet re- 
duced to form, and thus winning out of nature new creations 
of art ; believing in the utility of virtues for which there is no 
earthly reward — in the grandeur of duties which are not en- 
forced by the law — in the impulse to deeds which annihilate 
even the care for self-preservation, and conduct to noble, and 
yet, perhaps, to fameless graves-, and thus invigorating and re- 
cruiting the life of races by millions of crownless martyrs and 
unrecorded heroes. Strike from mankind the principle of 
Faith, and men would have no more history than a flock of 
sheep. 

But it is the common perversion of faith, if left unchastised, 
uncounterbalanced, to embitter itself into intolerance. This is 
not, fairly to be alleged against religion alone, as many satirical 
writers have done ; it is the same with faith in all other varie- 
ties of form. Nay, the most intolerant men I have ever known 
in my life have been men of no religion whatsoever, who, hav- 
ing an intense faith in the sincerity and wisdom of their own 
irreligion, treat those Avho dissent from their conclusions as 
simpletons or impostors. " One would fancy," says Addison, 
with elegant irony, " that the zealots in atheism would be ex- 
empt from the single fault which seems to grow out of the im- 
prudent fervor of religion. But so it is, that irreligion is prop- 
agated with as much fierceness and contention, wrath and in- 
dignation, as if the safety of mankind depended upon it." 

In politics, what can be so intolerant as party spirit Avhen 
it runs high? But when it runs high it is sincere. Faith has 
entered into the conflict : the combatants have quite forgotten 
that the object clear to the cooler by-standers is to \n\t some 
men out of ofiice and others into it ; they have conscientious- 
ly convinced themselves of the worthiness of their own cause 
and the infamy of their opponents'. Regarded on one side, 
antagonists are bigots and tyrants ; on the other side, antago- 
nists are cheats or incendiaries. 

Art and science have also tlieir intolerance. Hear the or- 
thodox physician talk of his innovating brother ! No coarser 



190 FAITH AND CHARITY. 

libels have been written than those in scientific journals against 
a professor of science. In art, an artist forms liis tlieories and 
his school, and has an enthusiast's faith in their indubitable 
superiority : the artist of a different school he regards as a 
Goth. One of the mildest poets I ever knew, who had nur- 
tured his own harmless muse in the meek Helicon of Words- 
worth, never could hear Lord Byron praised, nor even quoted, 
without transports of anger. I once nearly lost one of the 
best friends I possess by indiscreetly observing that the delin- 
eation of passion was essential to the highest order of poets, 
simply because he had formed a notion, in the rectitude of 
which he had the strongest good fliith, that perfect poetry 
should be perfectly passionless. I am not sure, indeed, whether 
there be not, nowadays, a more vehement bigotry in matters 
of taste than in those of opinion ; for so much has been said 
and Avritten about toleration as regards opinion, that in that 
respect the fear of not seeming enlightened preserves many 
from being uncharitable. But, on the contrary, so much is 
every day said and written Avhich favors intolerance in matters 
of taste, that it seems enlightened to libel the whole mental 
and moral composition of the man whose taste is opposed to 
your own. I have known language applied to a difference of 
taste on the merits of a poet, a novelist, nay, even an actor, 
which the Bishop of Exeter would not venture to apply to 
Tom Paine. 

In a word, there is scarcely any thing in which a man has a 
deep and conscientious faith but what he is liable to be very 
intolerant to the man who shocks that faith by an antagonistic 
faith of his own ; and if this general truth be more flagrantly 
noticeable in religious beliefs than in any other, it is not only 
because a man who believes in his religion holds it the most 
valuable of all his intellectual title-deeds, but also because a 
larger number of men concur in a religious belief than they 
do upon any other debatable point. 

In the New Testament, however, Faith is not left without 
a softening adviser, and Charity is placed by her side — Char- 
ity, with Avhich Intolerance is impossible; for, while so im- 
pressively insisting upon faith, our Savior not less impressive- 
ly reserves the right of judgment to Himself, the Unerring 
and Divine; and to man, whose faculty of judging must be, 
like man himself, erring and human. He says imperatively, 



FAITH AND CHARITY. 191 

" Judge not, that ye be not judged." Now, of all our offenses, 
it is clear that that offense of which man can be the least com- 
petent judge is an offense of defective faith ; for taith belongs 
to our innermost hearts, and not to our overt actions. And 
religious faith is therefore that express tribute to the only- 
Reader of all hearts, on the value of which man can never, 
without arrogant presumption, set himself up as judge. 

And the whole spirit and letter of the Gospel so enforce the 
duty of brotherly love, that the harshness with which man is 
disposed to regard the fellow-man whose doctrine differs from 
his own, has in that commandment of love a perpetual mitiga- 
tor and sweetener. 

When the scribe asked our Lord, " "What is the first com- 
mandment of all?" our Lord was not contented with stating 
the first commandment alone, viz., that which enjoins the love 
of God, but emphatically added a second commandment, 
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The first com- 
mandment includes religious faith ; for who can love what he 
does not believe in? The second commandment includes all 
which can keep faith safe from bigotry ; for what man, except 
a maniac, would torment and persecute himself for a difference 
of oj)inion from another ? 

It is thus that, by a benignant omniscience of the human 
heart in its strength and its weakness, Faith is enjoined as a 
habit of mind essential to all mental^lachievement as to all 
moral grandeur, while the asperities to which sincere faith, 
not in religion alone, but in all doctrines that the believer con- 
siders valuable, down to a dogma in politics or a canon in 
taste, are assuaged in him who has formed the habit of loving 
his neighbor as himself, and disci2:)lining his whole conduct by 
the exquisite justice Avhich grows out of the observance of that 
harmonizing rule, 

Now it is only with the worldly uses which are suggested 
by the divine second commandment — deduced from it as co- 
rollaries are from a problem, or as problems themselves are de- 
duced from an axiom — that I have to deal in the remarks I 
submit to the reader on the Wisdom of Conciliation. 

This wisdom, which is the one we appear the most to neg- 
lect, whether in public or private life, is nevertheless that 
which, where it is practiced, is attended with the most auspi- 
cious results. 



192 FAITH AND CHARITY. 

Take, first, the strife of parties. The men who admit into 
faith no soothing clement of brotherly love, are, no matter how 
sincere or how eloquent, the worst enemies to the party they 
espouse, and in critical periods of history have been the de- 
stroyers of states, and the subverters of the causes they espouse. 
It is witli truth that the philosophical apologists for the excess- 
es of popular revolutions have contended that timely reforms, 
yielded to reason, would have prevented the revolutions sub- 
sequently made in wrath. But it is a truth quite as notable, 
yet far less frequently insisted upon, that revolutions made iu 
wrath do not secure their object. There is a stage in all pop- 
ular movements at which to stop short is the surest victory, 
and from which all advance forward is certain to create reac- 
tion. Like the bad poet ridiculed by Boileau, the fanatical re- 
former 

"En poursuivant IMolse an travers des deserts, 
Court avcc Pharaou se iioycr dans les mers." 

In all contests of party there are many stages in which con- 
ciliation is obviously the wisest policy for both ; and where 
that policy is rejected, sooner or later the conciliator appears, 
though in the form of a master. He conciliates the strife of 
parties by suppressing it. The fortunate dictator, under what- 
ever name he may be called, is iu fact always, to the bulk of 
the people, the representative of compromise — a power grown 
out of the disorders of-othcr powers — the supremacy of which 
preserves each faction from the domination of its rivals, and 
secures to the community that repose which the leaders of the 
factions had refused to effect by conciliations between them- 
selves. Thus in truth rose Augustus, Cromwell, and either 
Napoleon, the First and Third. In the rise of each of these 
sovereign arbiters, there was, in fact, a compromise. The old 
system of authority was sacrificed to the passions begotten by 
opposition to it. The system of freedom, to which the old au- 
thority had been obnoxious, was sacrificed to the fears which 
its violence had created. And if, on the whole, in this com- 
promise, the abstract principle of liberty lost more than the ab- 
stract principle of authority, it is because, in all prolonged and 
embittered contests between liberty and order, order is sure 
ultimately to get the better ; for liberty is indeed the noblest 
luxury of states, but order is the absolute necessity of their ex- 
istence. 



FAITH a:nd charity. 193 

In the more peaceful and normal contests of party, a small 
minority of thoughtful men, who interpose between extremes, 
will generally contrive to jDossess themselves of power. This 
is remarkably the case in the British Parliament. For there 
is a strange peculiarity in English public life — the opinions 
most popular on the hustings are not those which the public, 
in its heart, desires to see carried into effect in administration. 
On the one side, the greater number of representatives con- 
sists of those who profess reforms which can not be achieved ; 
on the other side, the greater number are those who the most 
strenuously denounce the changes which must inevitably take 
place. To judge by the temper of constituencies, a compro- 
mise woidd be impossible ; the nation must be governed by 
the opinions which obtain the triumph on the hustings. But, 
the election once over, it is the few temperate men, whose tem- 
perance finds small fovor at the hustings, who obtain the con- 
fidence of the public and the ear of Parliament. 

But there is one essential to the success of moderate coun- 
cilors; they must be not less in earnest than the vehement 
ones. Insincerity is often excused to passion, but never to 
moderation. For it is allowed, with a good-natured if con- 
temptuous indulgence, that men in a passion, often saying 
more than they intend, must as often unsay what they have 
said ; and insincerity in them seems less want of truth than 
defect of judgment. But the moderate man is the calm man, 
who thinks deliberately for himself before he delivers the opin- 
ion on which others rely; and insincerity in him seems delib- 
erate fraud. Let it be plainly understood, that to conciliate 
men is not to abandon principles. It is quite possible in pub- 
lic life, as in private, to be conciliatory and yet firm. In order 
to be so, it is necessary to discriminate between those things 
that will not admit of compromise consistently with honor to 
the advocate and safety to the cause, and those things that, in 
the perpetual flux and reflux of human affairs, belong essential- 
ly to the policy of compromise — compromise being the nor- 
mal necessity of free states, which would rapidly perish if tlie 
feuds they engender were wholly irreconcilable. "VYe talk of 
times of transition, as if transition were the peculiarity of a 
time, whereas in every progressive state all times are times of 
transition. The statesman who can not com]ir('hend this tiMith 
is always exposed to tlie (^liargn either ol' ini)>rn('ticnliility or 

1 



194 FAITH ATsD CHARITY. 

of treason. If he exclaims "Xo compromise !" in things that 
admit of compromise, he must constantly find himself in the 
attitude either of unavailing resistance or of ignominious sur- 
render ; in either case he will not be a safe guide. A truly- 
wise politician, espousing a cause with sincere devotion, will 
as sparingly as possible pledge himself against Circumstance 
and Time ; for these are the great Powers of Mutability, 
which he must take into every prudent calculation if he would 
do the best he can for his cause. The archer who would be 
sure of his mark must allow for the wind. N"evertheless, in 
every cause there are certain elementary principles not to be 
abandoned, and for the ultimate benefit of which even a tem- 
porary, if a brave, defeat is better than a pusillanimous conces- 
sion. Still, even in such cases, it is astonishing how much a 
conciliatory manner can disarm, nay, sometimes convert opj)0- 
nents, and preserve authority to resistance and dignity to de- 
feat. Xo one overcomes the difiiculties in his Avay by acridity 
and spleen. Hannibal, in spite of the legend, did not dissolve 
the Alps by vinegar. Power is so characteristically calm, that 
calmness in itself has the aspect of power. And forbearance 
implies strength. The orator who is known to have at his 
command all the weajDons of invective, is most formidable 
when most courteous. We admit and admire philippics where 
there is a Philip to be denounced and a Demosthenes to ha- 
rangue ; yet, after all, even the philij)pics of a Demosthenea 
had no effect against Philip. 

But it is in private life that the prudence of conciliation is 
most visible and most needed. We feel this every day. If 
we have some unpleasant dispute in which we need a negotia- 
tor, we shrink from committing our cause to a blustering iras- 
cible friend ; we look out for an intei'mediator of conciliatory 
manner and temper. And if he think us in the right, Ave feel 
sure that he will not want the necessary firmness in all that is 
really important. He may insure us what is important by the 
sweetness with which he may concede what is insignificant. 
The conciliatory negotiator makes the adversary ashamed of 
violence. 

In families well ordered there is always one firm sweet tem- 
per, which controls without seeming to dictate. The Greeks 
represent Persuasion as crowned. 

The essence of all fine breeding is in the gift of conciliation. 



TAITH AND CHARITY. 195 

A man wlio possesses every other title to onr respect except- 
that of courtesy is in danger of forfeiting them all, A rude 
manner renders its owner always liable to alFront. He is never 
Avithout dignity who avoids wounding the dignity of others. 

Plantagenet Pungent is an exceedingly clever man ; he has 
high birth, a great fortune, a character without stain. He di- 
vests himself of these attributes of command, and enters socie- 
ty as an epigrammatist, looking round for a subject. He se- 
lects his butt, and lets fly his arrows ; the by-standers laugh, 
but it is not a pleasurable laughter. Each man feels that his 
turn may come next. Plantagenet Pungent has no doubt a 
social reputation for caustic wit, and for that very reason all 
his loftier claims to consideration are ignored or grudged; and 
once a week, at least, he provokes some rebuff which is hearti- 
ly enjoyed by the by-standers, whether they laugh openly or iu 
their sleeves. If without provocation you strike a draynian 
in a crowd, though you be a prince of the blood royal, you put 
yourself on his level ; and if the drayman thrash your royal 
highness, he will be the better man of the two. 

Scaliger Blount is an eminent example of a more solid sort 
of obnoxious ability. He has prodigious learning and a still 
more prodigious memory, both of which he brings into ruth- 
less activity by the goad of a combative disposition. He takes 
a cruel joy in setting every body right. Are you a bashful 
man talking in friendly whispers to your next neighbor at some 
crowded dinner-table? Scaliger Blount is sure to overhear 
you misdate an event or misquote an authority. Pounce he 
descends on you across the table, drags your blunder into gen- 
eral notice, corrects it with terrible precision, and flings it back 
to you where you sit, blushing with shame and rage, every eye 
riveted on your confusion! Scaliger Blount is a universal con- 
tradictor. He spares neithev age nor sex; the cloth itself has 
no sanctity in his eyes. He would rather contradict a bishojj 
than any other man, except an archbishop, especially if it be 
on a matter of theology or Church discipline. As all opinions 
have two sides, whatever side you take, he is sure to take the 
other; and his i^re-eminent delight is in setting you down in 
your own proper department, Avhatever that may be. Are 
you an artist, and venture a remark upon coloring? beware of 
Scaliger Blount. He knows all about coloring that man ever 
wrote on it, and you are sure to hear from him, "Sir, I disa- 



196 FAITH AND CHARITY. 

gree." Are you a lawyer, and, as you think, safely laying 
down the law to reverential listeners ? beware of Scaliger 
Blount ; he has the laws of all times, from Confucius to Lord 
St. Leonards, at his fingers' ends, and woe to you when you 
see him knit his brows and. exclaim, "I difier !" But, thouoh 
no one can deny the learning of this helluo Ubrorum, the com- 
mon sense of the common interest unites all diners-out against 
conceding respect to it. Instead of saying "Learned man," 
one says " Insufterable savage." Nobody acknowledges as an 
authority him who arrogates authority over all. Each prudent 
host, in making up his cards for a dinner-party, pauses a mo- 
ment at the name of Scaliger Blount, and shuffles this human 
cyclopaedia out of the pack, muttering the damnincf monosylla- 
ble " Bore." 

But Avhcn Urban Frankland is in the social circle, every one 
recognizes the enchanter. Ilis birth and fortune are but those 
of a simple gentleman, yet he has an iniiuencc denied to dukes. 
Llis knowledge is extensive, but with him litercB are indeed. 
humaniores. His natural intellect is of the highest, but it is 
reserved for fitting time and occasion. That which distin- 
guishes him in society is charm, and the secret of that charm 
is a manly suavity. He has no pretensions to the artificial 
elegance which Lord Chesterfield commends to his votaries ; 
he has no gallant comj^liments for the ladies, with whom he is 
not the less a favorite ; he has a cordial laugh, but it is never 
heard at the expense of others. The frankness of his nature 
and the Avarmth of his heart have on various occasions in life 
led him into errors or difiiculties which might have exposed 
him to much truculent attack; but, as he has been ever for- 
bearing to the imprudences of others, so others, by a tacit con- 
sent, have been forbearing to his. Malevolence gains no hear- 
ing against him. The love that Jie w^ius for his gentler quali- 
ties begets a reverence for his higher ones. Of all the men I 
ever kncAV, none more securely get their own Avay — none have 
so kingly an authority over those with whom they live. And 
I suspect the main reason to be this, that every one's self-love 
is so secure of a Avound from him that it identifies its OAvn pro- 
tection Avith his pre-eminence ; and yet I knoAA^ no man more 
truthful. Indeed, it is a maxim of his, that "Where there is 
no candor there can be no conciliation." "Sincerity," says 
Tillotson, "is an excellent instrument for the speedy dispatch 



FAITH AND CHARITY. 197 

of business." Cevtainly, as faith and charity should go togeth- 
er, so we should never care much for a man's mildness if we 
had not a thorough belief in his honor, nor accept as a media- 
tor or peacemaker him Avhom we did not know to have such 
reverence for honor in the abstract that he would never per- 
suade us to dishonorable concessions, whether he were em- 
ployed for or against us. 

The w^isdom of conciliation is visible even in literature. 
The writers who please us most, to whom we return the most 
oftein, are the writers who create agreeable sensations ; and 
certainly foremost among agreeable sensations are tho^e which 
reconcile us to life and humanity. It requires but a small com- 
parative exertion of talent in a writer who smooths down the 
natural grain of the heart to that which is required in one 
who rubs it all the wrong way. Hence the universal charm 
of Horace; hence our delight in the kindly laugh of Cervantes, 
and the good-tempered smile of Le Sage; hence the enviable 
immortality of Addison and Goldsmith. Certainly none of 
these writers spare our follies or our errors ; they are suffi- 
ciently frank and plain-spoken, but they do not revile and libel 
us. They have this character in common — they treat the 
reader as a friend and brother ; they conciliate our sympathies 
even where they expose our infirmities. 

In all things, from the greatest to the least, he who consults 
the wisdom of conciliation will find his account in it. If he 
covet power, there is no surer secret first to win and then to 
secure it ; if he desire that respect which is given to dignity 
of character, he will find that the consideration he bestows on 
others is an investment which yields the largest return in con- 
sideration toward himself. As to the elements of happiness 
which are found in a temper that seeks peace wherever peace 
can be made with honor, they are too obvious to need a com- 
ment. The union of faith and charity, carried out in thought and 
in action, pervasive in all the various operations of mind, in all 
the intricate relations of life, would go far toward the comple- 
tion of ideal excellence in man. All that is vouchsafed to us of 
intellectual grandeur, coming to us through literature, through 
art, through heroism, as well as through religion, from those 
glimpse's of the unproved, and on the earth unprovable, afiinity 
between the human and the divine which necessitate faith — 
all that is most exquisitely tender in our commerce with each 



198 FAITH A^D CHARITY. 

Other — all that is wisest in our practical business, while we 
have human hearts to deal with, is suggested to us by that con- 
siderate sympathy with human kind which embraces the lov- 
ing charities of life. Among the Greeks, the Charities were 
synonymous with the Graces. Admitted into the heathen re- 
ligion, their task was to bind and imite ; their attribute was 
the zone, without which even love lacked the j^ower to charm. 
"Without the Graces," sings Pindar, "the gods do not move 
either in the chorus or the banquet ; they are placed near 
Apollo." Prescribed to us by a gentler creed than the hea- 
then's, tj^ey retain their mission as they retain their name. It 
is but a mock Charity which rejects the zone. "Wherever the 
true and heaven-born harmonizer steals into the midst of dis- 
cord, it not only appeases and soothes as Charity, it beautifies, 
commands, and subjugates as Grace. 



ESSAY XIX. 

(IN SUPPLEMENT TO THE PPvECEDING ESSAY.) 

No one can deny that animals in general, and men in par- 
ticular, are keenly susceptible to praise. Nor is it a less com- 
monjDlace truism, that the desire of approbation is at the root 
of those actions to which the interest of the societies they are 
held to benefit or adorn has conceded the character of virtue, 
and sought to stimulate by the promise of renown. 

Yet, in our private intercourse with our fellows, there is no 
instrument of power over their affections or their conduct 
which we employ with so grudging a parsimony as that which 
is the most pleasing and efficacious of all. We are much more 
inclined to resort to its contrary, and, niggards of praise, are 
prodigals of censure. ^- 

For my own part, I think that, as a word of praise warms 
the heart toward him who bestows it, and insensibly trains 
him who receives it to strive after what is praiseworthy, and 
as our lesser faults may be thus gently corrected by disciplin- 
ing some counter-merits to stronger and steadier efforts to out- 
grow them, so it is, on the whole, not more pleasant than wise 
to keep any lai'ge expenditure of scolding for great occasions, 
and carry about with us, for the common interchange of social 
life, the argent de poclie of ready praise. Scolding begets 
fear; praise nourishes love; and not only are human hearts, 
as a general rule, more easily governed by love than by fear, 
but fear often leads less to the correction of faults and the 
struggle for merits than toward the cunning concealment of 
the.one and the sullen discouragement of the other. But let 
me be understood. By praise I do not mean flattery; I mean 
nothing insincere. Insincerity alienates love, and rots away 
authority. Praise is worth nothing if it be not founded on 
truth. But as ho one within the pale of the laws lives habit- 



200 EFFICACY OF PRAISE. 

ually with miscreants in whom there is nothing to praise and 
every thing to censure, so the j^ersons Avith whom a man toler- 
ably honest is socially conversant must have some good points, 
whatever be the number of their bad ones ; and it is by appeal- 
ing to and strengthening whatsoever is good in them that you 
may gradually stimulate and train, for the cure of what is evil, 
that tendency of nature which, in mind as in body, seeks to 
rid itself of ailments pernicious to its health in proportion as 
its nobler resources are called forth, and its normal functions 
are righted by being invigorated. --' 

A certain man of learning and genius Avith whom I am ac- 
quainted, being frustrated in the hope of a distinguished career 
by a disease which compelled his physician to interdict all 
severer taskwork of the brain, centred the ambition denied to 
himself in his only son,- whom he educated at home. To him, 
brilliant and quick, this boy seemed the most stolid of dunces. 
A friend to whom he complained of the filial stupidity which 
destroyed his last earthly hope, and embittered the sole occu- 
pation which sustained his interest in the world, said to him, 
" Let the boy stay with me for a week, and at the end of that 
time I will tell you what can be done with him." The father 
consented. When the week was over the friend came to him 
and said, **\l!ourage ! your boy has one faculty, in the natural 
strength of which he excels both you and myself. It is true 
that he can only learn a very little at a time, and that with a 
slowness and difficulty which must be tenderly consulted. 
But the very slowness and difficulty with which he acquires 
an idea impresses that idea lastingly on his mind, unless you 
confuse and effiice it by sending another idea to unsettle it be- 
fore it be fixed. If, when he bring you his exercise of six lines 
blurred and bungled, you cry ' Blockhead !' and give him a box 
on the ear, certainly you give him something to remember 
which is not in his lesson — you give him a box on the ear ! 
Place before him one idea at a time — associate it with pleasure, 
not pain ; he will keep that one idea firmly, and that one idea 
Avill lead on to another. In a word, never scold him for the 
slowness of his apprehension ; praise him cordially for the tena- 
ciousness of his memory. Instead of six lines and blame, give 
him one line and pi'aise." The father mused. "Now you 
mention it," said he, "the boy has a good memory, though not 
in his lessons. He is never at fault in a date i'f it be not in his 



EFFICACY OF PRAISE. 201 

' History,' and never forgets a place if it be not in his Latin 
Grammar." 

" And what is more," said the friend, " do you not find that, 
while he can not learn by heart any abstract maxims of right 
and wrong which you extract from the ' Spectator' or ' Blair's 
Sermons,' he is as honest as if he had digested a whole library 
of Essays and Sermons ? You leave your shillings loose on 
your table, ready to his hand if he wish to buy a kite or a trap- 
bat, but he never takes one, does he ?" " Certainly not : it is 
bad enough that he should be a dunce ; Heaven forbid that he 
should be a thief!" 

" Well, then, the boy has acquired for himself an idea of 
scrujDulous honor — even under temptation ; -that idea came to 
him insensibly, and without being confused by other ideas of 
pain — came to him partly through the silent influences of your 
own living example, of your own careless talk when you are 
not teaching, and partly from the unconscious sentiment of 
pride and pleasure in knowing that he is implicitly trusted. 
Now, do you not think that, with the gifts of a tenacious mem- 
ory and with a strong sense of the point of honor, you should 
as little fear that your boy will remain a dunce as that he Avill 
become a thief? Lead him upward to learning s» gradually 
that you do not create the necessities for blame which are stum- 
bling-blocks in his way. You create those necessities if you 
ask him to do what you know he can not do. Quick and bril- 
liant like yourself you can not make him, but you can easily 
make him solid and judicious. Look round the w^orld ; for 
one man w^ho wins high place in it through quickness and bril- 
liancy, do you not count twenty men who have achieved posi- 
tions more enviable through solidity and judgment? Now, 
let me call in your boy ; you shall hear him repeat a fable 
Avhich he has learned by heart in less time than he could learn 
two lines of the 'Propria qu?e maribus,' and you will at once, 
when you hear him, divine the reason why." The boy is call- 
ed in. He begins, at first hesitatingly and shyly, to repeat the 
fable of "The Hare and the Tortoise." But scarcely has he 
got through three lines before the friend cries out, " Capital !" 
well remembered;" the boy's face begins to brighten — his 
voice gets more animated — the friend shows the liveliest in- 
terest in the story, and especially in the success of the tortoise, 
and at the close exclaims, "Boy, if I had your memory, I would 

12 



202 EFFICACY OF PKAISE. 

master all that is Vv'orth the remembering. Think, as long as 
you live, of the hair and the tortoise, and — let the hare jeei-, 
the tortoise will win the race." 

" I don't flatter him, you see," whispered the friend to the fa- 
ther. " I don't tell him that he is the hare — I tell him frankly 
that he is the tortoise, and can't afford to lose an inch of the 
way. (Aloud) — And now, my boy, if we are to beat the liare, 
we must get through the ' Proj)ria qua3 maribus,' but we must 
get through it, like the tortoise, inch by inch : your father will 
not set you more than one line at a time, and will give you 
your own time to learn it ; and as I know that a more honest, 
honorable boy does not exist, so we trust to you to say, when 
you find that one- line is too little, that the pain of learning 
more is not equal to the pleasure of getting on and catching 
up the hare; and by the end of a month we shall have you 
asking to learn a dozen lines. Meanwhile, fasten your Avhole 
mind upon one line." 

The boy smiled ; the father saw the smile, and embraced 
him. The hint was adopted and acted upon ; and though, 
certainly, the boy never ripened into a wit nor a poet, he took 
honors at the University, and now promises to become one of 
the safest and soundest consulting lawyers at the Chancery 
bar. May his father, who still lives, see his son on the road to 
the Woolsack ! 

It is true that in great public schools this study of individ- 
uals is scarcely possible ; the schoolmaster can not be expect- 
ed to suit and humor his system so as to fit into each boy's 
peculiar idiosyncrasy. He has to deal with large masses by 
uniform discipline and routine. But in large masses the broad 
elements of human nature are still more conspicuously active 
than they are in individuals. Sentiments weak or inert in the 
one breast are strong and prevalent in numbers. And if it be 
true that susceptibility to praise is common to human beings, 
susceptibility to praise will be more vividly the attribute of a 
multitude than it will be of any individual chosen at random. 
Therefore, the more the agency of praise is admitted into large 
schools, the higher the level of aspiration and performance will 
become. It is noticeable that in any miscellaneous assemblage 
the moral features in common will have much more parity than 
the mental. Superior abilities are necessarily rare in a school 
as in the world, and (so far as display of intellect is concerned) 



EFFICACY OF PRAISE. 203 

superior abilities alone can attract the preceptor's praise. For 
he does not, in fact, praise eminent talent who accords an equal 
praise to mediocrity. But there is some lamentable fault in 
the whole tuition of the school if there be not a general senti- 
ment among the pupils favorable to integrity, honor, and truth, 
shared alike by the dull boys and the clever — that is (to repeat 
my proposition), parity in the moral, though disparity in the 
intellectual attributes. And here, the more the tone of the 
master sustains that prevailing sentiment of honor by a gen- 
erous trust in the character of his Avhole school, the more he 
will be likely to attain the cardinal end of all wholesale educa- 
tion, viz., the training and development of honorable and truth- 
ful men ; for the best kind of praise either to man or boy is 
that which is implied in a liberal confidence. A head master, 
under whom one of our public schools rose into rapid celebrity, 
acted on this theory with the happiest results. There was a 
compliment encouraging to his whole school in his answer to 
some boy, who, telling him a story the veracity of which might 
have been deemed doubtful by a suspicious jDcdagogue, said, 
"I hope you believe me, sir!" "Believe you! of course," re- 
plied the teacher ; " the greatest of all improbabilities would 
be that any gentleman in this school would tell me a lie." 

Now suppose the story had been a fib, and the teller of it 
had been punished,! do not believe that the punishment would 
have had the same good efiect on the whole school as the an- 
swer which, in placing implicit trust in its honor, must have 
thrilled through the heart of every one thus brought to re- 
member that, though a boy, he was a gentleman. Nor do I 
believe that the punishment would have been as permanently 
operative on the future right conduct of the culprit himself as 
the pang of remorse and shame which such an answer must 
have inflicted, unless he were a much meaner creature than it 
is in the nature of great public schools to produce. If a skill- 
ful orator desire to propitiate a hostile assembly, though it be 
the most unmanageable of all assemblies — an angry mob — he 
will certainly not begin by scolding and railing against it. 
Neither, always supposing him to be the master of an art, to 
excellence in Avhich manly earnestness and courage are always 
essential, will he attempt to flatter his prejudiced auditors for 
any wisdom or virtue which they are not exhibiting; if he do 
so, ho will be saluted at once by a cry of "Gammon!" But, 



204 EFFICACY OF PEAISE. 

after all, they are men, and, as sncli, must have much in them 
Avhich you can j^raise sincerely — with which you can establish 
a s^'mpathy, a bond of agreement, if you can but persuade 
them to hear you. A mob is seldom carried away against you 
except by an error of reason misleading into wrong directions 
an impulsive goodness of heart. It hates you because it has 
been duped into supposing that you hate the rights of human- 
ity or the cause of freedom. You may frankly acknowledge 
the goodness of the impulse before you proceed to prove the 
direction to bo wrong. I have seen a mob not indeed con- 
verted, but rendered silent, attentive, respectful, by the first 
few words of a candidate whom they were prepared to hoot 
and willing to stone, when those first few words have touched 
their hearts by an evident appreciation of their own commend- 
able love for humanity and freedom. 

Even in outlaws and thieves themselves, they who have un- 
dertaken the benevolent task of reforming them bear general 
testimony in favor of the good efiects of praise, and the com- 
parative nullity of scolding. It is told of one of these saga- 
cious pliilanthro23ists that, in addressing an assembly of pro- 
fessional appropriators of goods not their own, he said, " It 
is true you are thieves, but you are also men ; and the senti- 
ment of honor is so necessary to all societies of men, that — but 
you know the proverb, ' Honor among thieves.' It is that sen- 
timent which I appeal to and rely upon when I ask you to 
abandon your present mode of life, and, by a tenth part of the 
same cleverness in an honest calling which you manifest in 
your present calling, acquire from all men the confidence I am 
about to place in you. Yes, confidence ; and confidence what 
in ? the very thing you have hitherto slighted, honesty. Here 
is a five-jDOund note. I want to have change for it. Let any- 
one among you take the note and bring me the change. I rely_ 
on his honor." The rogues hesitated, and looked at one an- 
other in blank dismay, each, no doubt, in terrible apprehension 
that the honor of the corps would be disgraced by the perfidy 
of whatever individual should volunteer an example of hones- 
ty. At last one ragamufiin stepped forward, received the note, 
grinned, and vanished. The orator calmly resumed his dis- 
course upon the pleasures and profits to be found in the exer- 
cise of that virtue which distinguishes between meum and 
tiann. But he found his audience inattentive, distracted, anx- 



EFFICACY OP PRAISE. 205 

ions, restless. "Would the ragamuffin return with the change ? 
What eternal disgrace to them all if lie did not, and how could 
they hope that he Avould? The moments seemed to them 
hours. At length — at length their human breasts found relief 
in a lusty cheer. The ragamuffin had reappeared with the 
change. There was honor even among thieves. 

Xow it seems to me that, if praise be thus efficacious with 
rogues, it may be as well to spend a little more of it among 
honest men. But it is not uncommon to see philanthropists, 
especially of the softer sex, who so lavish the cream of human 
kindness on the bad that they have only the skimmed milk left 
for the good, and even that is generally kept till it is sour. 

All men who do something tolerably well, do it better if 
their energies are cheered on ; and if they are doing something 
for you, your praise brings you back a very good interest. 
Some men, indeed, can do nothing good without being braced 
by encouragement. It is true, that is a vanity in them ; but 
we must be very vain ourselves if the vanity of another seri- 
ously irritates our own. The humors of men are, after all, 
subjects more of comedy than of solemn rebuke ; and vanity 
is a very useful humor on the stage of life. It was the habit 
of Sir Godfrey Kneller to say to his sitter, " Praise me, sir, 
praise me : how can I throw any animation into your face if 
you don't choose to animate me ?" And laughable as the 
painter's desire of approbation might be, so bluntly expressed, 
I have no doubt that the sitter who took the hint got a much 
better portrait for his pains. Every actor knows how a cold 
house chills him, and how necessary to the full sustainment of 
a great poet is the thunder of applause. I have heard that 
when the late Mr. Kean was performing in some city of the 
United States, he came to the manager at the end of the third 
act and said, " I can't go on the stage again, sir, if the Pit 
keeps its hands in its pockets. Such an audience would extin- 
guish JEtna." 

And the story saith that the manager made his api^earance 
on the stage, and assured the audience that Mr. Kean, having 
been accustomed to audiences more demonstrative than Avas 
habitual to the severer intelligence of an assembly of American 
citizens, mistook their silent attention for disapiDrobation ; and, 
in short, that if they did not applaud as Mr. Kean had been ac- 
customed to be applauded, they could not have the gratifica- 



206 EFFICACY OF PRAISE. 

tion of seeing Mr. Keau act as he had been accustomed to act. 
Of course the audience — though, no doubt, with an elated 
sneer at the Britisher's vanity — were too much interested in 
giving him fair play to withhold any longer the loud demon- 
stration of their pleasure when he did something to please 
them. As the fervor of the audience rose, so rose the genius 
of the actor, and the contagion of their own applause redoub- 
led their enjoyment of the excellence it contributed to create. 

Fortunately, all of us do not require loud clapping of hands 
or waving of white pocket-handkerchiefs. Science and letters 
have a self-love which would be frightened and shocked at the 
plaudits which invigorate the spirits of the actor and the ora- 
tor. Still, even science, with all its majesty, has a pain in be- 
ing scolded, and a pleasure in being praised. The grand Des- 
cartes, modestest of men, who wished to live in a town where 
he should not be known by sight, felt so keen an anguish at 
the snubbings and censures his writings procured him, that he 
meditated the abandonment of jDhilosophy and the abjuration 
of bis own injured identity by a change of name. Happily for 
mankind, some encouraging praises came to his ears, and re- 
stored the equilibrium of his self-esteem, vanity (if all pleasure 
in approbation is to be so called) reconciling him once more to 
the pursuit of wisdom. 

But it is in the commerce of private life — in our dealings 
with children, servants, friends, and neighbors — that I would 
venture the most to recommend some softening and mitigation 
of that old English candor which consists in eternally telling 
lis our faults, but having too great a horror of compliments 
ever to say something pleasant as to our merits. 

We can not be always giving instruction, however precep- 
torial and admonitory our dispositions may be ; but if we have 
given a harmless pleasure, it is not altogether a day lost to the 
wisest of us. To send a child to his bed happier, with a 
thanksgiving heartier, he knows not why, to the Author of all 
blessings, and a livelier fondness in his prayer for his parents ; 
to cheer the moody veteran, who deems the young have for- 
gotten him, with a few words that show remembrance of what 
he has done in his generation ; to comfort the dispirited strug- 
gler for fame or independence, in the moment of fall or failure, 
with a just commendation of the strength and courage which, 
if shown in the defeat of to-day, are fair auguries of success on 



EFFICACY OF PKAISE. 20*7 

the morrow — all tliis may not be so good as a sermon. But 
it is not every one who has the right or capacity to preach 
sermons, and any one is authorized and able to do all this. 
As Seneca so beautifully expresses it, " Utcunque homo est ibi 
beneficio locus." -^ 

And it seems to me that the habit of seeking rather to praise 
than to blame operates favorably not only on the happiness 
and the temper, but on the whole moral character of those 
who form it. It is a great corrective of envy, that most com- 
mon infirmity of active intellects engaged in competitive strife, 
and the immediate impulse of which is always toward the dis- 
paragement of another; it is also a strong counterbalancing 
power to that inert cynicism w^hich is apt to creej) over men 
not engaged in competition, and which leads them to debase 
the level of their own humanity in the contempt -Avith which 
it regards what may be good or great in those who are so en- 
gaged. In short, a predisposition to see what is best in others 
necessarily calls out our own more amiable qualities ; and, on 
the other hand, a predisposition to discover what is bad keeps 
in activity our meaner and more malignant. 

Perhaps, however, to a very ascetic moralist I shall seem to 
have insisted far too strongly on whatever efficacy may be 
found in praising, and not painted with impartial colors the 
virtuous properties of reproof. Certes, a great deal may be 
said upon that latter and austerer theme. Instances may be 
quoted of little children who have been flogged out of naught- 
iness, and great geniuses Avho have been reviled into surpass- 
ing achievements. Whether the good so done has not been 
generally attended with some evil less traceable, is, I think, a 
matter of doubt ; but that is a question I will not here discuss. 
Granting all that can be said in vindication of giving pain to 
another, I still say that it is better and wiser, on the whole, to 
cultivate the habit of giving jjleasure ; and I may be excused 
if I have somewhat exaggerated the value of praise and under- 
valued the precious benefits of censure, because it needs no 
homily to dispose us to be sharp enough toward the faults of 
our neighbors. 

On this ti'uth Ph^drus has an apologue which may be thus 
paraphrased : 



208 EFFICACY OF PRAISE, 

"From our necks, when life's journey begins, 
Two sacks Jove, the Father, suspends, 
The one holds our own proper sins, 
The other the sins of our friends : 

"The fiftt, Man immediately throws 

Out of sight, out of mind, at his back ; 
The last is so under his nose, 
He sees every grain in the sack." 



ESSAY XX. 

(Dii I jlf-(DDutrnl. 

" He who desires to influence others must learn to couiuiaud 
himself," is an old aphorism, on which, perhajDS, something- 
new may be said. In the ordinary ethics of the nursery, self- 
control means little more than a check upon temper. A wise 
restraint, no doubt, but as useful 'to the dissimulator as to the 
honest man. I do not necessarily conquer my anger because 
I do not show that I am angry. Anger vented often hurries 
toward forgiveness ; anger concealed often hardens into re- 
venge. 

A hasty temper is not the only horse that runs away with 
the charioteer on the Road of Life. Nor is it the most dan- 
gerous, for it seldom runs away far. It gives a jerk and a 
shake, but it does not take the bit between its teeth, and gal- 
lop blindly on, mile after mile, in one obstinate direction to- 
ward a precipice. A hasty temper is an infirmity disagreeable 
to others, undignified in ourselves — a fault so well known to 
every man who has it, that he will at once acknowledge it to 
be a fault which he ought to correct. He requires, therefore, 
no moralizing essayist to prove to liim his failing, or teach 
him his duty. But still a hasty temper is a frank offender, 
and has seldom that injurious effect either on the welfare of 
others, or on our own natui'es, mental and moral, Avhich results 
from the steady purpose of one of those vices which are never 
seen in a passion. 

In social intercourse, if his character be generous and his 
heart sound, a man does not often lose a true friend from a 
quick Avord. And even in the practical business of life, where- 
in an imperturbable temper is certainly a priceless advantage, 
a man of honesty and talent may still make his way without 
it. Xay, he may inspire a greater trust in his probity and 
candor, from the heat displayed against trickiness and false- 



210 SELF-CONTEOL. 

hood. Indeed, there have been consummate masters in the 
wisdom of business who had as little command of temper as 
if Seneca and Epictetus had never proved the command of 
temper to be the first business of wisdom. Richelieu strode 
toward his public objects with a footstep unswervingly firm, 
though his servants found it the easiest thing in the world to 
put him into a i^assion. Sometimes they did so on purpose, 
pleased to be scolded unjustly, becaixse sure of some handsome 
amends. And in treating of self-control, I am contented to 
take that same Richelieu, the Cardinal, as an illustration of the 
various and expansive meaning which I give to the phrase. 
Richelieu did not command his temper in the sphere of his 
private household : he commanded it to perfection in his ad- 
ministration of a kingdom. He was cruel, but from policy, 
not from rage. Among all the victims of that policy, there 
was not one whose doom could be ascribed to his personal re- 
sentments. The life of no subject, and the success of no 
scheme, depended on the chance whether the irritable minister 
Avas in good or bad humor. If he permitted his temper free 
vent in his household, it was because there he was only a pri- 
vate individual. There he could indulge in the luxury of ire 
without disturbing the mechanism of the state. There, gen- 
erous as a noble and placable as a priest, he could own himself 
in the wrong, and beg his servants' forgiveness, without low- 
ering the dignity of the minister, who, when he passed his 
threshold, could ask no pardon from others, and acknowledge 
no fault in himself. It was there where his emotions were 
most held in restraint — there where, before the world's audi- 
ence, his mind swept by concealed in the folds of its craft, as, 
in Victor Hugo's great drama, " L'Homme Rouge" passes 
across the stage, curtained round in his litter, a veiled sjmibol 
of obscure, inexorable, majestic fate — it was there where the 
dread human being seemed to have so mastered his thoughts 
and his feelings that they served but as pulleys and wheels to 
the bloodless machine of his will — it was there that self-con- 
trol was in truth the most feeble. And this apparent paradox 
brings me at once to the purpose for which my essay is written. 
What is Self? What is that many-sided Unity which is 
centred in the single Ego of a man's being ? I do not put the 
question metaphysically. Heaven forbid ! The problem it 
involves jDrovokes the conjectures of all schools, precisely be- 



SELF-CONTKOL. 211 

cause it has received no solution from any. The reader is 
■welcome to whatever theory he may prefer to select from 
metaphysical definitions, provided that he will acknowledge in 
the word Self the representation of an integral individual hu- 
man being — the organization of a certain fabric of flesh and 
blood, biased, perhaps, originally by the attributes and pecul- 
iarities of the fabric itself — by hereditary predispositions, by 
nervous idiosyncrasies, by cerebral developments, by slow or 
quick action of the pulse, by all in which mind takes a shape 
from the mould of the body, but still a Self which, in every 
sane constitution, can be changed or modified from the original 
bias by circumstance, by culture, by reflection, by will, by con- 
science, through means of the unseen inhabitant of the fabric. 
Not a man has ever achieved a something good or great but 
will own that, before he achieved it, his mind succeeded in 
conquering or changing some predisposition of body. 

True self-control, therefore, is the control of that entire and 
complex unity, the individual Self. It necessitates an accurate 
perception of all that is suggested by the original bias, and a 
power to adapt and to regulate, or to oppose and divert, every 
course to which that bias inclines the thought and impels the 
action. 

For Self, left to itself, only crystaUizes atoms homogeneous 
to its original monad. A nature constitutionally proud and 
pitiless intuitively seeks, in all the culture it derives from in- 
tellectual labor, to find reasons to continue proud and pitiless 
— to .extract from the lessons of knowledge arguments by 
which to justify its impulse, and rules by which the imjiulse 
can be drilled into method and refined into policy. 

Among the marvels of psychology, certainly not the least 
astounding is that facility with which the conscience, being 
really sincere in its desire of right, accommodates itself to the 
impulse which urges it to go wrong. It is thus that fanatics, 
whether in religion or in politics, hug as the virtue of saints 
and heroes the barbarity of the bigot, the baseness of the as- 
sassin. Xo one can suppose that Calvin did not deem that 
the angels smiled approbation when he burned Servetus. ISTo 
one can suppose that when Torquemada devised the Inquisi- 
tion, he did not conscientiously believe that the greatest happi- 
ness of the greatest number could be best secured by select- 
ing a few for a roast, Torquemada could have no personal in- 



'212 SELF-CONTROL. 

terest in roasting a heretic ; Torqneraacla did not eat him Avhen 
roasted ; Torquemada was not a cannibal. 

Again : no one can silppose that when the German student, 
Sand, after long forethought, and with cool determination, 
murdered a writer whose lucubrations shocked his political 
opinions, he did not walk to the scaffold with a conscience as 
calm as that of the mildest young lady who ever slaughtered 
a wasp from her fear of its sting. 

So, when Armand Richelieu marched inflexibly to his pub- 
lic ends, the spy on his left side, the executioner on his right. 
Bayard could not have felt himself more free from stain and 
reproach. His conscience would have found in his intellect 
not an accusing monitor, but a flattering parasite. It would 
have whispered in his ear, " Great Man — Hero, nay, rather 
Demigod;* to destroy is thy duty, because to reconstruct is 
thy mission. The evils which harass the land — for which 
Heaven, that gave thee so dauntless a heart and so scheming 
a brain, has made thee responsible — result from the turbulent 
ambition of nobles who menace the throne thou art deputed 
to guard, and the license of pestilent schisms at war -with the 
Church of which thou art the grace and the bulwark. Pure 
and indefitigable patriot, undeterred by the faults of the sov- 
ereign Avho hates thee, by the sins of the people "who would 
dip their hands in thy blood, thou toilest on in thy grand work 
serenely, compelling the elements vainly conflicting against 
thee into the unity of thine own firm design — unity secular, 
imity spiritual — one throne safe from rebels, one church free 
from schisms; in the peace of that unity, the land of thy birth 
Avill collect, and mature, and concentrate its forces, now wasted 
and waning, till it rise to the rank of the one state of Europe 
■ — the brain and the heart of the civilized world! No myth- 
ical Hercules thou ! CoiniDlete thy magnificent labors. Purge 
the land of the lion and hydra — of the throne-shaking baron — 
the church-splitting Huguenot!" 

Armand Richelieu, by nature not vindictive nor mean, thus 
motions without remorse to the headsman, listens without 
shame to the spy, and, when asked on his death-bed if he for- 

* An author dedicated a work to Richelieu. In the dedication, referring 
to the " Siege of Rochelle," he complimented the cardinal with the word 
Hero. When the dedication was submitted to Richelieu for approval, ha 
scratched out "Heros," and substituted "Demi-Dieu!" 



SELF-COXTKOL. 213 

gave his enemies, replies, conscientiously ignorant of his many 
offenses against the brotherhood between man and man, "I 
owe no forgiveness to enemies ; I never had any except those 
of the state." 

For human governments, the best statesman is he who car- 
ries a keen perception of the common interests of humanity 
into all his projects, howsoever intellectually subtle. But that 
policy is not for the interests of humanity which can not be 
achieved without the spy and the headsman, and those projects 
can not serve humanity which sanction persecution as the in- 
strument of truth, and subject the fate of a community to the 
accident of a benevolent despot. 

In Kichelieu there was no genuine self-control, because he 
had made his wliole self the puppet of certain fixed and tyran- 
nical ideas. Xow in this, the humblest and obscurest individ- 
ual among us is too often but a Richelieu in miniature. Ev- 
ery man has in his own temperament peculiar propellers to the 
movement of his thoughts and the choice of his actions. Ev- 
ery man has his own favorite ideas rising out of his constitu- 
tional bias. At the onset of life this bias is clearly revealed to 
each. No youth ever leaves college but what he is perfectly 
aware of the leading motive-projDerties of his own mind. He 
knows Avhether he is disposed by temperament to be timid or 
rash, proud or meek, covetous of approbation or indifierent to 
ojDiuion, thrifty or extravagant, stern in his justice or weak in 
his indulgence. It is Avhile his step is yet on the threshold of 
life that man can best commence the grand task of self-control, 
for then he best adjusts that equilibrium of character by which 
he is saved from the despotism of one ruling passion or the 
monomania of one cherished train of ideas. Later in life our 
introvision is sure to be obscured — the intellect has familiar- 
ized itself to its own errors, the conscience is deafened to its 
own first alarms ; and the more we cultivate the intellect in its 
favorite tracks, the more we question the conscience in its own 
jorejudiced creed, so much the more will the intellect find skill- 
ful excuses to justify its errors, so much the more will the con- 
science devise ingenious replies to every doubt Ave submit to 
the casuistry of Avhich Ave have made it the adept. 

Nor is it our favorite vices alone that lead us into danger ; 
noble natures are as liable to be led astray by their favorite 
virtues ; for it is the proverbial tendency of a virtue to fuse it- 



214 SELF-CONTROL. 

self insensibly into its neighboring vice, and, on the othex- hand, 
in noble natures, a constitutional vice is often drilled into a 
virtue. 

Bxit few men can attain that complete subjugation of self to 
the harmony of moral law which was the aim of the Stoics. 
A mind so admirably balanced that each attribute of character 
has its just weight and no more, is rather a ty}De of ideal per- 
fection than an example placed before our eyes in the actual 
commerce of life. I must narrow the scope of my homily, and 
suggest to the practical a few practical hints for the ready con- 
trol of their fixculties. 

It seems to me that a man will best gain command over 
those intellectual faculties which he knows are his strongest, 
by cultivating the faculties that somewhat tend to counterbal- 
ance them. He in Avhora imagination is oi)u]ent and fervid 
Avill regulate and discipline its exercise by forcing himself to 
occupations or studies that require plain common sense. He 
who feels that the bias of his judgment or the tendency of his 
avocations is overmuch toward the positive and anti- poetic 
forms of life, Avill best guard against the narrowness of scope 
and feebleness of grasp which characterize the intellect that 
seeks common sense only in commonplace, by warming his fac- 
ulties in the glow of imaginative genius; he should not forget 
that where heat enters it expands. And, indeed, the rule I 
thus lay down eminent men have discovered for themselves. 
Men of really great imagination will be found to have general- 
ly cultivated some branch of knowledge that requires critical 
or severe reasoning. Men of really great capacities for prac- 
tical business will generally be found to indulge in a predilec- 
tion for works of lancy. The favorite reading of jioets or fic- 
tionists of high order will seldom be poetry or fiction. Poetry 
or fiction is to them a study, not a relaxation. It is more like- 
ly that their favorite reading will be in works called abstruse 
or dry — antiquities, metaphysics, subtle problems of criticism, 
or delicate niceties of scholarshij?. On the other hand, the fa- 
vorite reading of celebrated lawyers is generally novels. Thus 
in every mind of large powers there is an unconscious struggle 
perpetually going on to preserve its equilibrium. The eye 
soon loses its justness of vision if always directed toward one 
object at the same distance — the soil soon exhausts its produce 
if you draw from it but one crop. 



SELF-CONTEOL. 215 

But it is not enough to secure counteraction for the mind in 
all which directs its prevailing faculties toward partial and 
special results; it is necessary also to acquire the power to 
keep differing faculties and acquirements apart and distinct on 
all occasions in which it would be improper to blend them. 
When the poet enters on the stage of real life as a practical 
man of business, he must be able^ to leave his poetry behind 
him ; when the practical man of business enters into the do- 
main of poetry, he must not remind us that he is an authority 
on the Stock Exchange. In a word, he who has real self-con- 
trol has all his powers at his command, now to unite and now 
to separate them. 

In jjublic life this is especially requisite. A statesman is sel- 
dom profound unless he be somewhat of a scholar; an oi*ator 
is seldom eloquent unless he have familiarized himself with the 
world of the poets. But he will never be a statesman of com- 
manding influence, and never an orator of lasting renown, if, 
in action or advice on the practical affairs of nations, he be 
more scholar or poet than orator or statesman. Pitt and Fox 
are memorable instances of the discriminating self-abnegation 
with which minds of masculine power can abstain from the 
display of riches unsuited to place and occasion. 

In the Mr. Fox of St. Stephen's, the nervous reasoner from 
premises the broadest and most popular, there is no trace of 
the Mr. Fox of St. Anne's, the refining verbal critic, with an 
almost feminine delight in the filigree and trinkets of litera- 
ture. At rural leisure, under his apple-blossoms, his predilec- 
tion in scholarship is for its daintiest subtleties ; his happiest 
remarks are on wiiters very little read. But place the great 
tribune on the floor of the House of Commons, and not a ves- 
tige of the fine verbal critic is visible. His classical allusions 
are then taken from passages the most popularly known. And, 
indeed, it was a saying of Fox's, " That no young member 
should hazard in Parliament a Latin quotation not found in the 
Eton Grammar." 

Pitt was yet more sparing than Fox in the exhibition of his 
schoharship, which, if less various than his rival's, was proba- 
bly quite as deep. And one of the friends who knew him best 
said that Pitt rigidly subdued his native faculty oi icit, not be- 
cause he did not appreciate and admire its sparkles in orators 
unrestrained by the responsibilities of office, but because he 



216 SKLF-CONTKOL. 

considered that a man in tlie position of first minister impaired 
influence and authority by the cheers that transferred his repu- 
tation from his rank of minister to his renown as wit. He was 
right. ^ Grave situations are not only dignified, but strength- 
ened by that gravity of demeanor which is not the hypocrisy 
of the woukl-be Avise, but the genuine token of the earnest 
sense of responsibility. 

Self-control thus necessitates, first, Self-Knowledge — the con- 
sciousness and the calculation of our own resources and our 
own defects. Every man has his strong point — every man has 
his weak ones. To know both the strong point and the weak 
ones is the first object of the man who means to extract from 
himself the highest degree of usefulness with the least alloy 
of mischief. His next task is yet more to strengthen his strong 
points by counterbalancing them with weights thrown into the 
scale of the Aveak ones ; for force is increased by resistance. 
Remedy your deficiencies, and your merits will take care of 
themselves. Every man has in him good and evil. His good 
is his valiant army, his evil is his corrupt commissariat; reform 
the commissariat, and the army will do its duty. 

The third point in Self-control is Generalship — is Method — 
is that calm science in the midst of movement and passion 
which decides where to advance, Avhere to retreat — Avhat regi- 
ments shall lead the charge, what regiments shall be held back 
in reserve. This is the last and the grandest secret : the other 
two all of us may master. 

The man who, but Avith a mind someAvhat above the aver- 
age (raised above the average Avhether by constitutional talent 
or laborious acquirement), has his OAvn intellect, Avith all its 
stores, under his absolute control — that man can pass from one 
state of idea to another — from action to letters, from letters to 
action — Avithout taking from one the establishment that Avould 
burden the other. It is comparatively a i:>oor proprietor Avho 
can not move from tOAvn to country but Avhat he must carry 
Avith him all his servants and half his furniture. He Avho keeps 
the treasm'es he has inherited or saved in such compartments 
that he may know Avhere to look for each at the moment it is 
Avanted, Avill rarely find himself misplaced in any change of 
situation. It is not that his genitis is versatile, but that it has 
the opulent attributes which are essential to successful intellect 
of every kind. The attributes themselves, may vary in prop- 



SELF-CONTROL. 217 

erty and in degree, but the power of the Self — of the unity 
which controls all at its disposal — should be in the facility 
with which it can separate or combine all its attributes at its 
will. 

It is thus, in the natural world, that an ordinary chemist 
may accomplish marvels beyond the art of magicians of old. 
Each man of good understanding, who would be as a chemist 
to the world within himself, will be startled to discover what 
new agencies spring into action merely by separating the ele- 
ments dormant when joined, or combining those that ^vere 
wasted in air when apart. In one completed Man there are 
the forces of many men. Self-control is self-completion, 

K 



ESSAY XXI. 

"All the passions," saitli an old writer, "are such near 
neighbors, that if one of them is on fire the others should send 
for the buckets." Thus love and hate being both passions, the 
one is never safe from the spark that sets the other ablaze. 
But contempt is passionless ; it does not catch, it quenches 
fire. The misanthrope who professes to hate mankind has 
generally passed to that hate from too extravagant a love ; 
and love for mankind is still, though unconsciously to himself, 
feeding hate by its own unextinguished embers. "The more 
a man loves his mistress," says Rochefoucauld, " the nearer he 
is to hate her." Possibly so, if he is jealous ; but, in return, 
the more he declares he hates her, the nearer he is to loving her 
again. Vehement aifections do not move in parallels, but in 
circles. As applied to them the proverb is true, "Xes extremes 
se touchentP A man of ardent temperament who is shocked 
into misanthropy by instances of ingratitude and j^erfidy, is 
liable any day to be carried back into philanthropy should un- 
looked-for Instances of gratitude and truth start up and take 
him by surprise \ but if an egotist, who, inheriting but a small 
pittance of human affection, concentres it rigidly on himself, 
should deliberately school his reason into calm contempt for 
his species, he will retain that contempt to the last day. He 
looks on the world of man, with its virtues and vices, much as 
you, oh my reader, look on an ant-hill! What to you are the 
virtues or vices of ants ? It is this kind of masked misanthro- 
py which we encoxmter in our day — the misanthropy witliout 
a vizard belongs to a ruder age. 

The misanthrope of Shakspeare and Moliere is a passionate 
savage ; the misanthrope who has just kissed his hand to you 
is a jDolished gentleman. No disgust of humanity will ever 
make Mm fly the world. From liis club window in St. James's 
his smile falls on all passers-by with equal suavity and equal 



220 THE MODEKN MISANTHKOPE. 

scora. It may be said by verbal critics that I employ the word, 
misanthrope incorrectly — that, according to strict interpreta- 
tion, a misanthrope means not a despiser, but a hater of men, 
and that this elegant gentleman is not, by my own showing, ' 
warm-blooded enough for hate. True, but contempt so serene 
and immovable is the philosophy of hate — the intellectual con- 
summation of misanthropy. My hero would have listened 
with approving nod to all that Timon or Alceste could have 
thundered forth in detestation of his kind, and blandly rejoined, 
"Your truisms, o/ion cher, are as evident as that two and two 
make four ; but you can calculate on the principle that two 
and two make four without shouting forth, as if you proclaim- 
ed a notable discovery, what every one you meet knows as 
well as yourself. Men are scoundrels — two and two make four 
— reckon accordingly, and don't lose your temper in keeping 
your accounts." My misanthrope d la mode never rails at vice ; 
he takes it for granted as the elementary principle in the com- 
mei'ce of life. As for virtue, he regards it as a professor of 
science regards witchcraft. ISTo doubt there are many plausi- 
ble stories, very credibly attested, that vouch for its existence, 
but the thing is not in nature. Easier to believe in a cunning 
imposture than an impossible fact. It is the depth and com- 
pleteness of his contempt for the world that makes him take 
the world so pleasantly. He is deemed the man of the world 
2yar excellence^ and the World caresses and admires its Man. 

The finest gentleman of my young day, who never said to 
you an unkind thing nor of you a kind one — whose slightest 
smile was a seductive fascination — whose loudest tone was a 
flute-like melody — had the sweetest way possible of insinua- 
ting his scorn of the human race. The urbanity of his man- 
ners made him a pleasant acquaintance — the extent of his read- 
ing an accomplished companion. Xo one was more versed in 
those classes of literature in which Mephistopheles might have 
sought polite authorities in favor of his demoniacal views of 
philosophy. He was at home in the correspondence between 
cardinals and debauchees in the time of Leo X. He might 
have taken high honors in an examination on the memoirs il- 
lustrating the life of French salons in the ancien regime. He 
knew the age of Louis Quinze so well that to hear him you 
might suppose he was just fresh from a 2^^^ souper in the 
Pare aux Cerfs. 



THE MODERN MISANTHROPE. 221 

Too universally agreeable not to amuse those present at the 
expense of those absent, still, even in sarcasm, he never seemed 
to be ill-natured. As one of his associates had a louder repu- 
tation for wit than his own, so it was his modest habit to fa- 
ther upon that professed disew de bons mots any m_ore pointed 
epigram that occurred spontaneously to himself. "I wonder," 
said a dandy of another dandy who was no Adonis, " why on 

earth has suddenly taken to cultivate those monstrous 

red whiskers." "Ah!" quoth my pleasant fine gentleman, "I 
think, for my part, they become his style of face very much ; 

A says ' that they plant out his ugliness.' " For the rest, 

in all graver matters, if the man he last dined with committed 
some act which all honest men blamed, my misanthrope evinced 
his gentle surprise, not at the act, but the blame. " What did 
you expect ?" he would say, with an adorable indulgence ; " he 
was a man — lilce yourselves P^ 

Sprung from one of the noblest lineages in Christendom — 
possessed of a fortune which he would smilingly say " was not 
large enough to allow him to give a shilling to any one else," 
but which, prudently sjoent on himself, amply sufiiced for all 
the elegant wants of a man so emphatically single — this dar- 
ling of fashion had every motive conceivable to an ordinary 
tmderstanding not to be himself that utter rogue which he as- 
sumed every other fellow-creature to be. Nevertheless, he 
was too nobly consistent to his creed to suffer his example to 
be at variance with his doctrine ; and here he had an indisi^u- 
table advantage over Timon and Alceste, who had no right, 
when calling all men rogues, to belie their assertion by declin- 
ing to be rogues themselves. His favorite amusement Avas 
whist, and in that game his skill was so consummate that he 
f had only to play fairly in order to add to his income a sum 
Avhich, already spending on himself all that he himself required, 
he would not have known what to do with. But, as he held 
all men to be cheats, he cheated on princij^le. It was due to 
the honor of his philosophy to show his utter disdain of the 
honor which impostors preached, but which only dupes had 
the folly to practice. If others did not mark the aces and 
shuffle up the kings as he did, it was either because they were 
too stupid to learn how, or too cowardly to risk the chance of 
exposure. He was not as stupid, he was not as cowardly, as 
the generality of men. It became him to show his knowledge 



222 THE MODERN MISAKTHKOPE. 

of their stupidity and liis disdain of their cowai'dice. JBref-^ 
he cheated ! — long with impunity ; but, as Charron says, 
Juhomme se pique — man cogs the dice for his own ruin. At last 
he was suspected, he was watched, he was detected. But the 
first thought of his fascinated victims was not to denounce, 
but to warn him ; kindly letters conveying delicate hints were 
confidentially sent to him : he was not asked to disgorge, not 
exhorted to repent ; let by-gones be by-gones ; only for the fu- 
ture, would he, in playing with his intimate associates, good- 
naturedly refrain from marking the aces and shufliing ujj the 
kings ? 

I can well imagine the lofty smile with which the scorner of 
men must have read such frivolous recommendations to depart 
^rom the philosophical system adorned in vain by his genius, if 
not enforced by his example. He who despised the opinions 
of sages and saints — he to be frightened into respecting the 
opinions of idlers at a club ! send to him an admonition from 
the world of honor to respect the superstitions of card-j^lay- 
ers ! as well send to Mr. Faraday an admonition from the 
world of spirits to respect the superstitions of table-rappevs ! 
To either philosopher there would be the same rej^ly — " I go 
by the laws of Nature." In short, strong in the conscience of 
his opinion, this consistent reasoner sublimely persevered in 
justifying his theories of misanthropy by his own resolute 
practice of knavery, inexcusable and unredeemed. 

"What Timon thought, this godlike Cato was !" 

But man, whatever his inferiority to the angels, is still not 
altogether a sheep. And even a sheep only submits to be 
sheared once a year ; to be sheared every day would irritate 
the mildest of lambs. Some of the fellow-mortals whom my 
hero caressed and plundered took heart, and openly accused 
him of marking the aces and shufliing up the kings. At first 
his native genius suggested to him the wisdom of maintaining, 
in smiling silence, the contempt of opinion he had hitherto so 
superbly evinced. Unhai^pily for himself, he was induced by 
those who, persuaded that a man of so high a birth could nev- 
er have stooped to so low a peccadillo, flattered him wath the' 
assurance of an easy triumph over his aspersers — unhappily, I 
say, he v/as induced into a departure from that system of ac- 
tion which he hnd hitherto maintained with so supreme a sue- 



THE MODERN MISAJSTTHEOPE. 223 

cess. He condescended, for the first time in his hfe, to take 
other men into respect — to regard what might be thought of 
him by a world he despised. He brought an action for hbel 
against his accusers. " Plis counsel, doubtless by instruction, 
sought to redeem that solitary inconsistency in his client by 
insinuating that my lord's chosen associates were themselves ■ 
the cheats, malignant conspirators against the affable hawk of 
quality in whom they had expected to find a facile pigeon. 

The cuttle-fish blackens the water to escape from his ene- 
mies, but he does not always escape ; nay, in blackening the 
water he betrays himself to the watchful spectators. My hero 
failed in his action, and quitted the court leaving behind him 
the bubble reputation. If I am rightly informed. Adversity, 
that touchstone of lofty minds, found this grand philosopher 
as serene as if he had spent his life in studying Epictetus. He' 
wrapped himself, if not in virtue, at least in his scorn of it — 

"Etudo 
Spernit liumi defvigient&penno." 

He retired to the classic Tusculum of his villa in St. John's 
Wood. There, cheered by the faithful adherence of some ele- 
gant companions, who, if they did not believe him innocent, 
found him nnalterably agreeable, he sipped his claret and mor- 
alized on his creed. Doubtless he believed that " the talk 
would soon subside," "the thing blow over." The world 
would miss him too much not to rally again round the sage 
who so justly despised it. Perhaps his belief might have been 
realized, but — 

" Vita, snnima brevis spcm nos vetat inchoarc longam" — 

Death, the only player that no man can cheat, cut into his 
table, and trumped the last card of his long suit. 

In the more brilliant period of this amiable man-scoi'ner's 
social career,-once, and once only, he is said to have given way 
to anger. One of his associates (I say designedly associates, 
not friends, out of respect for his memoiy, since friendship is 
a virtue, and he therefore denied its existence) — one of his as- 
sociates wrote a comedy. The comedy w^as acted. My hero 
honored the performance by appearing in the author's box. 
Leaning forward so as to be seen of all men, he joined his 
hands in well-bred applause of every abortive joke and gram- 
matical solecism, till, in a critical part of the play, there oc- 



224 THE MODERN MISANTHEOPE. 

cuiTed a popular claptrap — a something said in praise of virtue 
and condemnation of vice. The gallery of course responded 
to the claptrap, expressing noisy satisfaction at the only sen- 
timent familiar to their comprehension which they had hither- 
to heard. But my archetype of modern misanthropy paused 
aghast, suspended 

"The soft collision of applauding gloves," 

and, looking at his associate as reproachfully as Caji^ar might 
have looked at Brutus when he sighed forth '•'• Et tu^ Brute!'''' 
let fall these withering words : " Why, Billy, this is betraying 
the Good Old Cause." So saying, he left the box, resentful. 
Now this man I call the genuine, positive, realistic Misan- 
thrope, compared to whom Timon and Alceste are poetical 
make-believes ! 



ESSAY XXII. 

A LITTLE while ago, as I was walking down Parliament 
Street, I suddenly found myself face to face with a man who, 
in the days of my early youth, had inspired me with a warm 
regard and a lively admiration. Though he was some years 
older than myself, we had been for a short time very intimate ; 
but after we had once separated, I saw no more of him till 
thus, toward the evening of life, we two, who had parted com- 
pany in its morn, recognized each other at the first glance ; 
and, after exclaiming " Is it you ?" halted mute, like men to 
whom startling news is abruptly told. The past as when we 
last separated, the present as we now met, bx'ought before us, 
in the extreme of contrast, the long, gradual, stealthy interval 
between the dates annulled, so that, in uttering those words, 
" Is it you ?" each saw himself as he was in youth, and simul- 
taneously felt the change time had wrought in his own life 
by reading the work of time in the face of the other. But 
such reflection was, as it Avere, the flash of the moment, and 
with the next moment it passed away. As I was then hurry- 
ing down to the House of Commons, somewhat fearful lest I 
should not be in time to vote on a question worn so thread- 
bare that it was not likely the patience of members would 
allow it to be long rediscussed, my old acquaintance kindly 
turned back from his own way to accommodate himself to 
mine ; and, when we parted at the doors of Westminster Hall, 
much to my surprise he had invited me to visit him in the 
country, and, perhaj^s still more to his surprise, I had accepted 
the invitation. 

Sir Percival Tracey (so let me call the person I have just 
introduced to the reader) was one of those men to Avhom Na- 
ture gives letters of recommendation to Posterity, which, 
from some chance or another, never reach their destination. 

K 2 



22 G MOTIVE POWER. ' 

It has been said by a man of a genius and a renown so great 
as to render his saying the more remarkable, tliat if we could 
become thoroughly acquainted with the biography of any one 
who has achieved fame, we should find that he had met with 
some person to fame nnknown, whose intellect had impressed 
him more than that of any of the celebrated competitors with 
whom it had been his lot to strive. He whom I call Percival 
Ti-acey might serve to illustrate whatever truth may be found 
in that bold assertion. At the time of life in which I had 
been among his familiar associates, I can remember no one of 
the same years who has since become distinguished, so strong- 
ly impressing the men who were distinguished then with re- 
spect for his superior capacities, and a faith in his ultimate re- 
nown. Yet, if I disclose his real name, in him this later gen- 
eration would only recognize one of those wealthy and well- 
born gentlemen of whom little or nothing is known to the 
public, except that they are — well-born and wealthy. 

Deprived of both parents in early childhood, Percival Tracey 
was left to the guardianship of his maternal uncle, the Duke 

of . Sent to a public school, illustrious less for learned 

boys than famous men, he there acquired one of those brilliant 
rej^utations which light up the after-paths of ambition : for it 
is a wondrous advantage to candidates for power and renown 
to enter on the arena of life with the es2:>rit de corps of coevals 
already enlisted in their favor ; an advantage so great, that I 
venture to doubt w^hether any system of wholly private edu- 
cation, however theoretically admirable, can compensate to an 
able and ambitious man, whom such education had formed, for 
the loneliness in which, at the onset of his career, he stands 
among his own generation — no young hands thrilling to ap- 
plaud, no young voices whispering "he was one of us!" all 
disjDOsed to cavil at the claims of a stranger whose talents re- 
vive no recollections of early promise — whose successes recall^ 
no sympathies of boyish friendship — whose honors, if his labors 
wnn them, will add no name to the Z,ihro cVoro of the never- 
forgotten School ! 

Cambridge was the university selected for the completion 
of Tracey's academical studies, whether from family associa- 
tions or by his own desire. On leaving school, somewhere 
about the age of sixteen, he was accordingly placed in the 
house of a tutor, who had acquired the high-^st mathematical 



MOTIVE POWEE. 227 

honors which the University of Cambridge can confer. There 
he contracted a taste and developed an aptitude for the Posi- 
tive Sciences which might have enabled him to confirm at col- 
lege the reputation he had gained at school ; but just as he 
was about to commence his first term at Trinity he was at- 
tacked by a fever, in reality caused by a rash feat in swim- 
ming, but which his guardian insisted on imputing to an overfa- 
tigue in study. The Duke of was in his own Avay an ex- 
ceedingly clever man — a man of the world — into which world 
he had entered as an aspiring cadet, before, by the death of his 
elder brother, he had become a contented duke. His grace 
was no Goth ; he held book-learning in the greatest possible 
respect ; but, while he allov/ed that book-learning lifted up 
into station the poor and the humbly born, he had a vague 
notion that book-learning tends to divert from their proper 
sphere of action the wealthy and the high-born ; and in Per- 
cival Tracey he hoped to find the zealous champion, and per- 
haps ultimately the redoubted chief, of that party for which 
his grace felt a patriot's preference. Hailing, therefore, in 
Percival's unlucky fever an excuse for distracti^ him from 
unhealthful studies, the duke, instead of immuring his brilliant 
ward in the cloisters of a college, sent him forth to perform 
what was anciently called "The Grand Tour," and in polite 
acquaintance with courts and capitals learn by how little knowl- 
edge mankind are governed. At the end of three years Per- 
cival Tracey returned to England, and entered London society 
as a young man in possession of vast estates entirely at his 
own disposal, and with the command of a considerable capital 
accumulated by the savings of a long minority. He ^^as the 
representative of a family which, in point of antiquity, of illus- 
trious connections, and the ijolitical influence derived from ter- 
ritorial possessions, might vie with the noblest in England. 
The advantages he took from Nature were as brilliant as those 
he had received from Fortune. Plis frame, at once light and 
vigorous, was the faithful index of a constitution capable of 
enduring any of those fatigues, more exhausting than bodily 
labor, by which study or ambition tasks the resources of life. 
He was sufficiently good-looking to be generally, considered 
handsome, but not so outrageously good-looking as to acquire 
that kind of reputation for beauty which elevates the rank of 
a woman, but disparages that of a man ; for I presume that 



228 MOTIVE POWER, 

auy woman, however sensible, would be rather admired for her 
outward attractions than her intellectual powers; and I am 
sure that no sensible man, who possesses that pride which Mil- 
ton calls " an honest haughtiness," would not feel very much 
ashamed of such a reputation. In fact, if Percival Tracey was 
handsome, it was not from mere regularity of feature, nor lus- 
tre of coloring, but from an expression of countenance which 
seemed to take sweetness from the amenities of his heart, and 
nobleness from the dignity of his mind. In his prodigal cul- 
ture, graceful accomplishments felicitously combined with se- 
verer studies, so that the one seenied as naturally to grow up 
amid the other as the corn-flowers grow amid the corn. He 
excelled in all the bodily sports and exercises which young 
Englishmen of his rank esteem as manly to a degree which 
won their pardon for his display of those elegant ornaments 
of character which they are apt to neglect as ctfeminate. En- 
dowed with a vivid sense of beauty and an exquisite felicity 
of taste, he was more than an amateur of the Fine Arts, more 
than a coniioisseur ; he was an artist. Professional painters 
discovered amazing beauties in his paintings : had lie himself 
been a professional painter, they Avould doubtless have paid 
him the liigher compliment of discovering amazing faults. He 
Avas an excellent linguist, and wrote or spoke most of the po- 
lite languages in Europe with the correctness and fluency of 
an educated native. Yet Avith all this surface of graceful ac- 
complishment no one ever called him superficial. On the con- 
trary, it was the habit of his mind to search into the depth of 
thinsrs. Hence his confirmed attachment to the Positive Sci- 
ences ; and I believe, indeed, the only MSS. he was ever in- 
duced to publish (and those anonj^mously) were some 2)apers 
in a scientific journal, which were held, at the time, to throw 
much light upon a very abstruse subject, and spoken of highly 
by j^rofessed ^philosophers. But his authoi'ship was undetect- 
ed, and the papers themselves, in the rapid progress of scientific 
discovery, have no doubt been long since forgotten. Hence, 
too, the tendency of his faculties was not toward the creative, 
but toward the critical directions of intellect. He had sufil- 
cient warmth of imagination to appreciate the works cin which 
imagination bestows a life more lasting than the real, yet that 
appreciation did not lead him to imitate, but rather to analyze, 
what he admii-ed. Fond of metaphysics, he prized mo^t that 



MOTIVE POWER. 229 

kind of jDOctr}' in which metaphysical speculation lights up un- 
suspected beauties, or from which it derives familiar ilhistra- 
tions of recondite truths. Thus in his talk, though it had the 
easy charm of a man of the world, there was a certain subtlety, 
sometimes a certain depth, of reasoning, which, supported by 
large stores of comprehensive information, imposed upon his 
listeners, and brought into bolder relief the vantage-ground 
for political station which his talents and his knowledge took 
from the dignity of his birth and the opulence of his fortune. 
In short, at the date I now refer to, the practiced observers of 
the time, and the acknowledged authorities in opinion, glancing 
over the foremost figures in the young generation, pointed to 
Percival Tracey and said, " See the Coming Man !" 

Secretly, as I learned more intimately, and yet more admir- 
ingly to know the object of a prediction which all appearances 
might justify, I doubted whether the prediction would be real- 
ized. The main reason of rny doubt was this — because even 
then, in the prime of his dazzling youth, Paa'cival Tracey lack- 
ed that enthusiasm without which even a great intellect is sel- 
dom impelled into the doing of great things. 

Perhaps from one of the very excellencies of liis mental or- 
ganization ho was indifierent to ambition, and not covetous of 
fame. All that culture which he had so liberally bestowed on 
the natural fertility of his mind was rather in compliance with 
his own tastes than for any definite object in connection with 
what the world could give or what the world might say. He 
had little of that vanity which makes men restless — much of 

• that self-esteem which tends to keep men still. Partly from 
the speculative bias to which his fondness for philosophical 
studies inclined his thoughts — partly from the vis inerticB which 
is the property of bodies so solidly fixed on this earth as are 
great wealth and great station, he said " Gui bono''' to any ef- 
fort that imposed a violence on tastes and dispositions which, 
in themselves serene and peaceful, were shocked by strife, as 
the ears of a master in music are shocked by discord. 

He had abundant energy and perseverance in the accumula- 
tion of his mental stores simply because he was thus rendered 
more complete and more liappy in himself; and he was averse 

• to all gladiatorial vying and contest with others, inasmuch as 
the passions engendered by ambition serve rather to render 
the intellectual being less harmoniously completed, and the 



230 MOTIVE POWER. 

moral being less felicitously calm. His mind tliiis resembled 
one of those fountains which feed themselves through invisi- 
ble conduits from an elevated source, but overflow into no 
running streams ; ever fresh and ever full, they soar, but tliey 
do not spread. Yet, at the time I speak of, Percival Tracey 
had a vague consciousness that he ought to do something — 
some day or other. But, as that consciousness disquieted his 
enjoyment of the present, he never nourished it by meditation. 
Day after day he put off the doing of the destined something 
to that morrow which is the vanishing point in so many of our 
fancy landscapes. One day he took it into his head to set out 
on a tour in the East, a regiou of the globe which he had not 
hitherto visited. Tlie eve before his departure he said to me, 
" When I come back I suppose I must make up m}- mind to 
enter Parliament. "Why do you smile?" 

"Because you know there will shortly be a vacancy for the 
county which your forefathers rejiresented for centuries, and 
you are going to tiie East in order to get out of the way of 
requisitions and deputations from the North." 

"Well, I own that the House of Commons does not attract 
me at present, as no doubt it will by-and-by. Infancy has its 
whooping-cough, middle age its politics." 

" If politics be a disease, I don't think you are likely to 
catch it. It is a complaint which shows itself early, and the 
Englishman who has no twinge of it in youth has not that sort 
of constitution on which it ever takes hold in middle life." 

"Hem!" answered Tracey; "perhaps you are right there. 
Metaphor apart, I do not fancy that I could ever take much 
interest in politics, unless the country were actually in that 
danger which one half the country always say that it is when 
the leaders of the other half govern it. But still I ought to 
do something. Speech-making and voting are not the only 
occupations of life. What do you think I could best do?" 

" The best thing you could do at present is to leave off say- 
ing '•Cni bono' when any thing whatever is to be done." 

Tracey laughed gayly. We shook hands and parted, nor 
met again till the Percival Tracey whom I had last seen at the 
age of thirty was close upon his sixtieth year. 

As I had been unable to fix the precise day for my visit, so 
it-had been left to my option to come without previous notice 
any day in the following week which my avocations and en 



MOTIVE POWEK. 231 

gagements would permit. It was a bright summer afternoon 
in which I found myself free, with two or three dajs before 
me equally at my command, should I wish so far to prolong 
my visit. After a journey by the railway of some hours, I ar- 
rived at the small station which Tracey had told me Avas the 
nearest one to his house, and I heard to my surprise that I 
was then six miles distant from his park gates. "How is it," 
I asked the station-master, " that your company do not accom- 
modate so large a proprietor as Sir Percival Tracey with a 
station nearer to his residence?" 

"Sir," answered the official, "it is not the fault of the com- 
pany ; when they asked his consent to the line, which passes 
for several miles through bis estate, in the plan submitted to 
his inspection a station was marked close to his gates. He 
made it a peremptory condition that there should be no such 
station — no station nearer to him than this one." 

" I should think he must have repented that whim by this 
time," said I. 

" No," answered the Station-master, smiling. " It was only 
the other day that the company again offered Sir Percival the 
station he had before declined, and again he refused it." 

I inquired no farther, entered the chaise which was waiting 
for me, and, traversing a country singularly beautiful, but sin- 
gularly primitive, with large w^astes of heath land and com- 
mon, backed sometimes by many-colored hills clothed with 
wandering sheep, sometimes by masses of hanging wood inter- 
sected by devious rivulets breaking into rocky falls, I arrived 
at last at my friend's lodge. The opening into the glades of 
the park so caught my eye that I descended from the chaise, 
and, ordering my servant to go on before and announce my 
visit, I walked leisurely along the sward, under the boughs of 
trees that might have sheltered the ringdove from the falcons 
of Saxon earls. The heat of the day had declined ; the west- 
ern sun was tempered by the shades of the forest hills, amid 
■which it was slowly sinking. It had been my first escape into 
the country that summer, and the change from the throng and 
reek of London was in itself delight. Perhaps on such holiday 
occasions there is more pure and unalloyed enjoyment of na- 
ture when it is wholly dissociated from the sense of property 
— when Ave do not say to ourselves, "This is my land, tbese 
mv groves, tliese mv flocks and herds;" for willi t^(^ sc;!c-p of 



232 MOTIVE POWER. 

property come involuntarily the cares of property; and in 
treading his own turfs the observer looks round to see what 
has been neglected or what has been improved in his absence; 
he casts not a poet's, but a farmer's eye on the ewe nestled 
under the oak-tree: "Heavens! has it got the fly?" and the 
kine that pause from grazing: "Why! have they got the 
mouth-complaint?" But that is not all. Even when one is 
undisturbed by the master's cares, the pleasure of gazing, after 
absence, on what is one's own, what one remembers in child- 
hood, in youth, what is associated with events of hope and 
fear, sorrow or joy in one's own past life, is not that absolute 
sympathy and fusion with outward objective nature herself, 
into which she quietly steals us when we have no personal 
history connected with the scenes we behold ; for where our 
own individual existence obtrudes itself upon our contempla- 
tion, the Genius of the Place is no longer the joyous Universal 
Pan, but rather the pensive ghost of our former selves ; and 
Nature, instead of gently subjugating our own mind, and 
weaning us from the consciousness of our own careworn life, 
separate and apart from herself and her myriads, rather wakes 
up reflections which subject her to their dominating intellect- 
ual influences, and deepen the sense of our own fate and place 
in her world. 

Somewhat suddenly, the features of the j^ark changed ; the 
wilder beauties of woodland, with many a dell and hillock, 
and sweeps of profitless fern and gorse, gave way to a broad 
lawn, separated from the jDark by a slight fence, and the house 
of the owner rose before me. My first impression at its sight 
was that of surpi'ised disappointment. I had, not unnaturally, 
presumed that I should see an ancient stately pile in keej^ing 
with the long descent and vast possessions of its lord. But 
the house before me seemed small for the character of the 
ground immediately round it, and was evidently modern. As 
I drew nearer to it, however, the first impression of disappoint- 
ment wore off"; and for that kind of architecture which suits 
best with what we call a villa, I have seldom seen any struc- 
ture more pleasing to the eye from justness of proportion and 
elegance of appropriate enrichments. The columns of its lofty 
portico were of the rosso antico marble, and the sky-line of the 
roof was playfully relieved by statues and vases of exquisite 
workmanship. Still the house was certainly small for the 



MOTIVE POWER. 233 

habitual residence of an owner so wealthy. It could not have 
accommodated the guests, nor found room for the estabUsh- 
ment, of a man disposed to be hospitable on the scale of sixty 
thousand a year ; it would have been a small house for a social 
squire of five thousand. When I was about a hundred yards 
from the stone balustrade in front of the building, one of the 
windows on the ground floor was thrown open, and my host 
sprang out with the bound of a boy. He still, indeed, pre- 
served the lightness of frame which had rendered him in youth 
so peerless in all active sports ; and as he came toward me, 
I muttered to myself the lines which I remembered to have 
applied to him more than thirty years before — 
'"Tis he ; I ken the manner of his gait ; 
He rises on the toe — that spirit of his 
In aspiration lifts him from the earth." 

After we had shaken hands and exchanged the customary 
salutations, Tracey said to me, " Shall we look into the gar- 
den? It wants a good hour yet to our dinner-time, for to-day 
we do not dine till eight. I had a presentiment that you 
would come to-day." 

" Eight o'clock is not, then, your usual hour ? I am afraid 
I have put you out of your ways." 

"Reassure yourself; Ave have no usual hour for dinner so 
long as the summer lasts. Yesterday we dined at three on 
the banks of the lake which I hope to show you ; the day be- 
fore, we resolved to enjoy a moonlight sail on the sea, which 

is eighteen miles off, and did not dine till ten We live 

a strange forester kind of life here, and have no habits which 
clo not vary with a whim or the weather." 

By this time he had led me to the garden-side of the house, 
which was not seen from the road, and at this side the build- 
ing was of a much gayer and more fanciful character than that 
of the entrance front. It was enriched yet more profusely 
with urns and statues ; with the lively additions of gilded bal- 
conies filled with flowers, and admitted of reliefs in color, 
which, though not uncommon in Italy, I had never before seen 
introduced into the fa5ades of our English homes. But what 
chiefly pleased me was a very long colonnade, terminating in 
a lofty Belvidere tower, which extended from the body of the 
house. Seeing that this colonnade was glazed between the 
pillars, and catching sight of some plants within, I supposed 



234 MOTIVE POWER. 

at first that it was a conservatory; but Tracey told me that it 
was never heated to a degree beyond the temperature main- 
tained in the sitting-rooms, and contained only those plants 
which could thrive in an atmosphere not insalubrious to En- 
glish lungs. "It serves," said he, "as a lounge in winter ^or 
wet weather, and answers the purpose of the peristyles or por- 
ticoes attached to the old Koman villas. It also holds my 
aviaries, and constitutes my statue galler}^, as well as a muse- 
um for such classical antiquities as I have collected in my 
travels. In short, I endeavor to store within it whatever may 
suggest pleasant thoughts when one wanders there alone, or 
agreeable subjects for conversation when one is there with 
companions. You will find its walls inscribed with quota- 
tions from favorite authors in all languages. Perhaps this 
will strike you at first as pedantry or aflectation. But when 
you have made acquaintance with the place, I am sure that 
you will recognize the charm of being greeted by beautiful 
thoughts eveiy time you pause, tired with your own thoughts, 
or willing to lead some languid or over-disputatious talker into 
trains of idea forever fresh, yet forever soothing." 

Turning from the house, my eye now rested on a garden, 
which seemed to me a perfect model of art, whether from the 
harmony with which colors were assorted in the jDarterres, or 
the delicacy of proportion observed in the mimerous sculp- 
tured ornaments which decorated the terraces — the whole tak- 
ing life and movement from the j^lay of many fountains, and 
the confines of the artistic scenery fusing themselves in the 
natural landscape beyond, as the green alleys, stretching from 
the last of the gradual terraces, lost themselves in the depth 
and mystery of the closing woods. Just then a ringdove was 
winging its flight along one of these vistas, and simultaneous- 
ly to both our lips came the quotation from Keats's wondrous 
" Ode to the Nightingale :" 

" To leave tlie world unseen, 
And with thee fade away into the forest dim !" 

A poet's verse remembered and repeated by two companions 
in a breath, why or wherefore they can scarcely explain, is a 
link in sympathy which brings them both insensibly nearer to- 
gether. Hitherto we had walked somewhat apart ; the next 
moment we were arm-in-arm. There was, however, a pause in 
our conversation till we found ourselves seated near one of the 



MOTIVE POWEK. 235 

fountains. Then, rousing myself from my reverie, I asked my 
host if he had built the house and planned the gardens. 

" Yes," he said, with a smile ; " whatever we owe to our an- 
cestors, one likes best what one has done one's self. The fact 
is, however, that when, many years ago, I resolved to settle in 
England, but to renounce London, I found that, with three fam- 
ily seats, I had not one home in which I could live according 
to my tastes. Tracey Court, in the north of England, has been 
the usual residence of our family for several generations : it is 
an enormous pile, which necessitates an immense establish- 
ment. Now I tiave a special dislike to live begirt with dejoend- 
ents for whom I have no use, and to incur constraints for which, 
there is no object. At Tracey Court, which is the centre of 
my principal estates in England, my predecessors had always 
maintained as much formal state, and indulged in as much. 
Avearisome ostentation, as if they had had the misfortune to be 
born German princes instead of English country gentlemen. 
There they kept up what they called the political influence of 
the family. I could not have lived at Tracey Court but what 
I must either have perpetually put myself out of my way for 
things in which I had no interest, and for persons with whom 
I had no sympathy, or I should have been the object of uni- 
versal dislike, and I am not so stoical a philosopher as to be 
callous to unkind glances and indignant whispers every time I 
cross my threshold. Besides, Tracey Court, though grand in 
its way, is gloomy, the scenery rude, the climate harsh : I love 
to surround myself with cheerful images. In Ireland I have a 
large, rude old castle, in the midst of a county in which it rains 
nine months in the year. Universal hospitality, too, is still 
more the curse of Irish castles than of English manor-houses. 
I might have shut my windows against the rains, but not my 
doors against the neighborhood, to say nothing of invading 
tourists. I had visited the castle in my youth — I had no de- 
sire to visit it again ;" here I observed that my friend sighed, 
and then, as with an effort, went on more rapidly. " Thirdly, 
I have what is considered the jointure-house for widowed Tra- 
ceys — a pretty place enough, not too large, on the banks of 
the Thames. There I first took up my abode. But it is only 
twelve miles from town — a railway station close to its garden 
wall. So near London, the fidget of London traveled in the 
atmosphere with the smoke, and irritated my nerves. I wish- 



236 MOTIVE POWEK. 

ed to forget Loudon, and London at twelve miles' distance 
would not be forgotten. Then I bethought me of this jDlace, 
which was the earliest possession of my family, but at which 
for more than two centuries they had never resided — for a very 
good reason, there was on it no residence : the manor-house 
had been burned down in the troubled reign of Charles L 
Here there were no hereditary duties of hospitality — no troub- 
les of political influence — small comparative cares of property; 
for in this county I am not one of the wealthiest proprietors: 
the rental I derive from my lands here does not exceed £6000 
a year ; but the acreage is happily very large iti proportion to 
the rental, so that I have no near neighbors. The farmers are 
old-fashioned, primitive agriculturists, and allow their hedges 
to grow six yards high and spread four yards thick, all lush 
with convolvulus and honeysuckle. Here you can ride through 
the green lanes which make the beauty of England and the re- 
proach of husbandry. The climate is enjoyable — its springs 
and autumns delicious, its Aviuters mild, its summers only too 
hot for those who do not take exercise. In a word, the air 
and the scenery pleased me. I built a house here according 
to my own fancy — not one that would f)lease a formal archi- 
tect — not purely Greek, Roman, Italian, but such as seemed to 
me to blend the general characteristics of the bright classic 
life Avith the necessities of English climate and the comforts of 
modern usage. I resolved beforehand that I would construct 
a residence on a scale jjroportioned to the rental of the estate 
on which it was built — in short, that I would here escape from 
the toils and troubles which embitter the expenditure of 
£60,000 a year, and, so far as my personal income is concern- 
ed, live somewhat within the £6000 a year Avhich I possess in 
this county. If I lived alone, and if my tastes as artist did not 
corrupt my theories as philosopher, I should contract my ex- 
penditure into much narrower limits. But I have an aunt — a 
sister of my mother — who was born in a second wedlock, and 
is very little older than myself When I came back to En- 
gland I found her a lone widow, and as she had given up all 
jointure and settlement for the purpose of paying her hus- 
band's debts, her natural home w^as with me. She had been 
accustomed to a certain mode of living ; I could not ask her to 
submit to privations. For this reason, and for other reasons 
more personal, I have fixed my expenditure at the highest rate 



MOTIVE POWEK. 237 

which, to my mind, is compatible with ease; for in all walks 
of life there is quite as little ease in an overlarge shoe as there 
is iu a tight one." 

"I congratulate you, my dear Tracey," said I, somewhat 
sarcastically, " on having assessed your expenditure at a sum 
which does not necessitate very rigorous privations. Six thou- 
sand a year, which you speak of so modestly as a kind of gen- 
teel poverty, is, I suspect, when net and clear, as in your case, 
somewhat above the average income enjoyed by peers under 
the rank of earl. I agree with you that a gentleman who does 
not care for ostentation may contrive, by the aid of philosophy, 
to live very comfortably on £6000 a year. But still you have 
the remaining £54,000 yearly on your hands, and I presume 
that you do not get rid of that burden by hoarding it in the 
Three per Cents." 

" Nay," answered Tracey, slightly coloring, " if hoarding be 
a pleasure, I think it is a sinful one ; and sins are like thistles 
— despite the best husbandry, they will spring up ; but it is 
only in the worst husbandry that one does not try to get rid 
of them. The surplus of my income is spent somehow — I hope 
usefully. I endeavor to know as little as I can the precise de- 
tails in Avhich it disapj)ears. But, hark! there rings the half- 
hour bell." 

"Do you live here with no other companion but your aunt ?" 
I asked, as we walked back toward the house. 

" Oh no, that would be loneliness twice over. We have al- 
ways a few friends staying with us. I have so arranged my 
house that, thank heaven, it can not hold many acquaintances. 
But let me tell you whom you will meet here. First, as to my 
aunt, Lady Gertrude, her you have met before, but many years 
ago : I will leave you to discover for yourself those changes 
which Time makes in us all. Secondly, you will find, in a gen- 
tleman named Caleb Danvers, who condescends to act as my 
librarian and secretary, a prodigy of learning and memory, 
with a touch of quaint humor. Thirdly, I shall introduce you, 
in Patrick Bourke, to a young Irish artist, full of promise and 
enthusiasm. Some young artist or other is always in the 
house. I like the society of artists ; and, from pure selfish- 
ness, I secure to myself that luxury by a pretense of liberality. 
Every year I select some young painter or sculptor, and, after 
a short probation in this retreat, I send him to Italy to finish 



238 MOTIVE POWER. 

his studies. Fourthly and fifthly, you will make acquaintance 
with a young couple, Henry and Clara Thornhill. They have 
not been long married, and are still in love with each other ; 
but he, ungrateful man ! is not in love only with her as she is 
with him — he is in love also with his profession, Avhich is the 
army. He is at present nothing more than a captain in the 
line, but is in daily hopes that Europe will be desolated by 
some horrible war, which may result in his becoming a field 
marshal. For the rest, a fine young fellow, a relation of mine 
— a relation near enough to count on being one of my heirs ; 
but he is, at present, less bent upon killing me than some half 
a million or so of unsuspecting foreigners." ♦ 

By this time we were within the house. My host conduct- 
ed me to the rooms Avhich he devoted to my use, and which, 
though small, constituted the ideal of a bachelor's apartment 
— the bedroom opening, on one hand, to a bath-room, on the 
other to a pretty study, the writing-table placed at the win- 
dow. Did Tracey remember my love to be near the light 
whenever I read or scribble ? probably enough ; for he had a 
happy memory where he could give pleasure. The walls of 
the room were made companionable by dwarf bookcases, 
which, as I afterward discovered, were enriched with those 
volumes one is always glad to reperuse. When Tracey left 
me, I sat for some minutes musing. Was this man, for whom 
such high destinies in fame had been predicted, wholly with- 
out regret for the opportunities he had thrown away ? In the 
elegant epicurean life which he had planned, and seemed to 
carry out for himself, should I not detect some disguised dis- 
appointment ? And if not, had a being who, whatever his 
faults, had been in youth singularly generous and noble-heart- 
ed, really degenerated into a bloodless egotist, shunning all the 
duties wdiich could distract him from the holiday into Avhich 
he sought to philosophize away existence ? 

I could not satisfactorily unravel the problem Avhich my con- 
jectures invented and addressed to my fancy ; and I w^ent 
down stairs just as the dinner-bell rang, resolved to gather 
from the talk of my fellow-guests some hints that might en- 
lighten my comprehension of the character of the host. 

On entering the drawing-room, I found tliere already assem- 
bled all wliom I had been prepared to meet. I had scarcely 
renewed a very slight and ancient acquaintance with Lady 



MOTIVE POWEE. 239 

Gertrude before dinner was announced. She took my arm, 
and Ave Avere soon seated side by side at a round table in the 
prettiest dining-room I ever saAV. The shape of the room Avas 
octagon, AA^ith a domed ceiling,-»beautifu]Iy painted in the ara- 
besques and festoons Avhich gaA^e so fanciful a decoration to 
the old Roman villas. On the Avails Avere repeated the same 
imageries as Ave see in Pompeian houses, but in tints more sub- 
dued, and more suited to the taste in color AA'hich Ave take 
from our colder climate, than the glaring contrasts in vA^hich 
Pompeian artists indulged. The arabesques formed panels for 
charming pictures, the subjects of Avhich I soon perceived to 
be taken from the more convivial of Horace's odes. In these 
paintings there A\''as a certain delicacy of sentiment, conjoined 
Avith an accuracy of costume and a fidelity of scene and man- 
ners, in Avhich I recognized at once the learning and the taste 
of my host. I pointed to them Avitli a gesture Avhich asked, 
"Are they not the Avork of your hand?" " Nay," he ansAver- 
ed, at once interpreting the gesture, " they Avere painted by a 
young friend of luine noAV in Rome. I did but give him the 
general idea, sketched in crayons. I am fond of classical sub- 
jects, but not of mythological ones. I think thatlt is the mis- 
take of artists, and perhaps of poets, Avho wish to be classical, 
to imagine that they must be mythological. We have no fs- 
sociations with. Venus and Apollo, but we have associations 
with the human life of which poets Avho believed in Venus and 
Apollo have left eternal imjDressions on our minds. For this 
Avorld^ I like the classical type of thought rather than the 
Gothic, for the classical type brightens and beautifies all that 
is conceived by our senses ; but for all that is to set me think- 
ing on the world to come, I prefer the Gothic type. Classical 
imagery would shock me in a chapel ; Gothic imagery would 
offend me in a dining-room. I keep the two trains of idea 
apart. I dislike to confound the sen^ous with the spiritual. 
I dedicate this room to Horace, because of all jDoets he is the 
one who imparts a sentiment at once the most subtle and the 
most hearty to that happy hour in the tAventy-four in which 
we live back our youth at the sight of our old friends." 

These remarks calling forth a reply from me, the conversa- 
tion at first threatened to become, as it generally docs the first 
day a stranger is introduced into a small family party, some- 
AAdiat too much of a dialogue betAveen the host and the stran- 



240 MOTIVE POAVER. 

ger. But in a short time other tongues were drawn into talk, 
and I, in my turn, became a listener. There was this notable 
distinction between the kind of conversation which I had just 
left behind me in London, and that which now interested my 
attention : in London dinners, no matter how well informed 
the guests, talk nearly always turns ujDon persons — here, talk 
turned upon things. The young painter talked well; so did 
Clara Thornhill. Now and then the librarian threw in an odd, 
quaint, out-of-the-way scrap of erudition, delivered so like a 
joke that it made us merrier if it failed to make us Aviser, 
Tracey himself was charming, never allowing one subject to 
become tedious, and lighting up all subjects with a gayety 
which, if it was not wit, was very much what wit might be, if 
something of ill-nature were not at the bottom of all the good 
sayings by which wit epigrammatizes the epics and the dra- 
mas of human life. 

We all left the dining-room together, men and women alike, 
according to the foreign fashion ; we passed, not into the 
drawing-room in which we had assembled before dinner, but 
into a library of such dimensions that I could not conceive how 
it could possibly belong to the house. Lady Gertrude laughed 
at my astonishment, and explained away its cause, 
f" You could not have guessed at the existence of this room," 
said she, "on seeing the exterior of the house, for it is screened 
from sight by the glazed colonnade behind which it extends. 
The fact is, when Percival built this house, he did not feel so 
sure that it would become his habitual residence as to* trans- 
port hither the vast library he inherited or has collected. It 
was not till we had been here two years that he determined on 
doing so; and as there was no room for so great a number of 
volumes in the building, and any large visible extension of the 
house would have spoiled its architectural symmetry, this gal- 
lery was run out at the back of the colonnade, and a very hap- 
py afterthought it was : it has become the favorite sitting- 
room. On one side (as you will see when we come to the 
centre of the room) it opens on the colonnade or statue gal- 
lery, and on the other side the view from the windows com- 
mands the most picturesque scenery of the park and the hills 
beyond, a striking contrast to the dressed ground of the gar- 
dens." 

" And," said the painter, " to my mind much more pleasing, 



MOTIVE POWER. 241 

for in all highly-dressed ground the eye becomes conscious of 
a certain monotony "vvhich is not found in the wilder land- 
scapes, where the changes of prospect, which Nature is per- 
petually making, are more visible : I mean, that in these gar- 
dens, for instance, the most striking objects are the sculptured 
ornaments, the. parterres, the fountains — the uniformity of art 
and 2:)lan ; but in a natural landscape every varying shadow is 
noticed." 

Here we had got into the middle of this vast gallery, and I 
caught sight, through an arched recess, from which the dra- 
peries were drawn aside, of the plants and statues in the ad- 
joining colonnade. Tracey, who had lingered behind in con- 
versation with Mrs. Thornhill, now joined us, and, passing his 
arm through mine, drew me into the colonnade, which was 
partially and softly lighted up. Some of its glazed compart- 
ments were left open, giving views of the gardens, with their 
terraces and fountains hushed in the stillness of the summer 
night. The rest of the party did not join us. Perhaps it was 
thought that such old friends, after so long a separation, might 
have much to say to each other which they would not wish to 
say before listeners. Nevertheless, we two walked for some 
minutes along the corridor in silence, Tracey leaving me to 
make acquaintance for myself, and unassisted by comment of 
his own, with the statues and antiquities, the inscriptions, the 
orange-trees, the aviaries, which made the society of the place. 
At length we paused to contemplate the gardens, and stepped 
out into the starlight. Then said Tracey, " I often think that 
we do not sufficiently cultivate the friendship) of Night. We 
separate the night by too sharp a line from the day. We close 
her out from us by shutters and curtains, and reject her stars 
for our lamps. Now, since I have lived here, I have learned 
that Night is a much more sociable companion than I before 
suspected. In summer I often ride out, even in winter often 
ramble foi'th, when my guests have been for hours in their 
beds. I take into my day impartially all the twenty-four hours. 
There are trains of thought set in motion by the sight of the 
stars which ai'e dormant in the glai'e of the sun; and without 
such thoughts, Man's thinking is incomplete." 

" I concede to you," said I, " the charm of Night, and I have 
felt the truth which you eloquently express, more especially, 
perhaps, Vidien traveling alone in my younger days, and in soft- 

L 



242 MOTIVE POWER. 

ei* climates than our own. But there arrives a time when one 
is comi5elled to admit that there is such a thing as rheumatism, 
and that even bronchitis is not altogether a myth. All mor- 
tals, my dear Traecy, are not blessed with your enviable health ; 
and there is a proverb which. warns us against turning night 
into day." 

Teacey. " I suspect that the proverb applies to those who 
shut out the night the most — to students, wasting night in 
close chambers ; to the gay folks of capitals, who imagine that 
it is very imprudent to breathe the fresh air after tw^elve 
o'clock, but jDcrfectly safe to consume all the nitrogen, and ex- 
haust all the oxygen, in the atmosphere of ballrooms. The 
best proof that night air in itself is wholesome (I mean, of 
course, where the situation is healthy) may be found in the 
fact that even delicate persons can, with perfect impunity, 
sleep with their windows open ; and I see that practice com- 
mended in the medical journals. The vmhealthful time to be 
out is just before and just after sunset; yet that is precisely 
the time "which the fashionable part of our population seem to 
prefer for exercise. Of course, however, I can only pretend 
to speak from experience. I do not study at night ; the early 
hours of the day seem to me the best for brain-work, and cer- 
tainly they must be so for the eyesight. But I never discover 
that outdoor exercise at night injures my health; at my age, 
I should soon know if it did. My gamekeeper tells me he is 
never so well as at that part of the year when he is out half 
the night at watch over his preserves.* Be this as it may, 
I rejoice to find that I, at least, can safely follow out, in so 
pleasant a detail, the general system on which I planned the 
l^hilosophy of my life in fixing my home remote from capitals, 
and concentring into confines as narrow as fate wall permit my 
resources of thought and of happiness." 

" Your system ?" said I ; " that interests me ; what is it ?" 
Teacey. " How many men we see, who, having cultivated 
their minds in capitals, retire into the country, and find them- 
selves, after the novelty of change has w^orn away, either wdth- 

* Of course I am not responsible for any opinions of Sir Percival Tracey's, 
with many of which I disagree ; but as this whim of his about night peram- 
bulations is captivating and pLausible, so I think it due to the health of my 
readers to warn them against subscribing to it without the approval of their 
medical advisers. 



MOTIVE POWER. 243 

out amusement and object, or involuntarily deriving amuse- 
ment and object from things that really belong, not to the pure 
country life, but to the life of the capital which they have left 
in body, but where they still are in mind. One rich man places 
his pleasure in receiving distinguished guests — viz., a certain 
number of inane persons with sonorous titles, variegated by 
wits d la mode,wh.o import into the groves the petty scandals 
they learned at the clubs, or leading politicians, who can not 
walk in your stubbles without discharging on you the contents 
of a blue-book on agricultural statistics. Another man, not so 
rich, or not so desirous of putting the list of his guests into the 
' Morning Post,' thinks he has discovered a cure for enmd in 
the country by luxuriating there in the vanities of an ambition 
which he could not gratify in tha^own. He can be a person- 
age in a village — he is nobody in a capital. He finds to his 
satisfaction that the passions are hardy plants, and will thrive 
as well in the keen air of a sheep-walk as in the hot-house of 
London. Vanity and avarice proffer to him the artificial troub- 
les which he calls 'natural excitements.' He can not be an 
imperious statesman, but he may be a consequential magis- 
trate ; he can not be a princely merchant, but he can be an 
anxious farmer, and invest the same fears of loss, and the same 
hopes of gain, in oats and turnips, which the merchant em- 
barks in the vessels that interchange the products of nations. 
He says, ' How much better is the country life to the town 
life,' only because his vanity finds at quarter-sessions and A^es- 
tries the consideration which would fail it in courts and sen- 
ates ; and his avarice has excitement and interest in the Short 
Horns on his home farm, and none in the Bulls and Bears on 
Exchange. How many other men, settling in the country, 
only vegetate there, having no living interest except in what 
passes in the city they have left; the only hour of the day to 
which they look forward with eagerness, and in which they 
expand into intellectual being, is that in which they seize on 
the daily newspaper, and transport themselves in thought from 
Arcady to Babylon. Now, when I resolved to live in the coun- 
try, I wished to leave wholly behind me, not merely the streets 
and smoke of London, but the trains of thought which belong- 
to streets and smoke. I did not desire to create for myself, in 
a province,, those gratuitous occasions of worry; the anxiety 
and trouble, the jealousy, envy, and Iiate, which the irritations 



244 MOTIVE POWER. 

of the amour propre^ and the fever of competition for gain, or 
fame, or social honors, engender in the life of capitals, but which 
in that life are partially redeemed, and sometimes elevated, by 
a certain nobleness of object. But in the country life they 
only make us unamiable, and we can not flatter ourselves that 
they serve to make us great. The severest of philosophers 
might be contented to take on himself all the anxieties and 
troubles which weighed on the heart of a Pitt. He might feel 
no shame to have indulged in all the outbreaks of rage which 
gave thunder to the eloquence of Fox. He might consent to 
have on his conscience the sins of polemical wrath, of malevo- 
lent satire, of the vindictive torture and anguish inflicted by 
truculent genius on presuming rivals or disparaging critics. 
He might be haunted by no^venging furies if, as a Milton, he 
had stung to death a Salamasius, or, as a Pope, libeled with re- 
lentless hate the woman who had ridiculed his love. For the 
career of active genius is a career of war — '•Ma vie, c'est un 
combat,'' said Voltaire. "What aspirant for a fame which other 
aspirants contest does not say the same ? Suffering and rage, 
wounds given and wounds received, are the necessities of war ; 
and he who comes out of the war a hero, is, after all, a grander 
creature than he who shrinks from the war, a sage. But to 
undergo an equal worry, and feel an equal acerbity of temper 
in provoking little battles for little triumphs ; to ride the whirl- 
wind of a keyhole and direct the storm of a saucer ; in a word, 
to enter uj^on country life, looking round for excitements in 
ambition, vanity, or the fidgety joys of a restless nervous tem- 
perament, is but to take from a town life the cares that disquiet 
the heart, leaving behind all those grander intellectual rival- 
ries which at least call into play powers that extract reward 
out of the care, glory out of the disquiet, which must ever ac- 
company the contest between man and man. 

"Therefore, ray resofve, on fixing my abode in the country, 
was to make myself contentedly at home with Nature — to 
place my enjoyments in her intimate companionship — to grati- 
fy my love for art in such adornments as might yet more please 
my eye in her beauty, or blend the associations of her simple 
sensuous attraction with those of the human beings who have 
loved and studied her the most, and given to her language the 
sweet interpretations of human thought — the sculptor, the 
painter, the poet, the philosopher who explores her through 



MOTIVE POWER. 245 

science, or serenely glasses her in the calm of contemplation. 
And among these links between man's mind and nature we 
may place as one of the most obvious, man's earliest attempt 
to select and group from her scattered varieties of form that 
which — at once a poem and a picture — forms, as it were, the 
decorated bordei^-land between Man's home and ISTature's 
measureless domains — The Gaeden. 

" As we walk along these terraces, which, no doubt, many a 
horticulturist would condemn as artificial, either I mistake, or 
all that Art has done here unites yet more intimately Nature 
with the Mind of Man ; for this seems to me the true excuse 
for what is called the artificial style of gardening, viz., that the 
statue, the fountain, the harmonies of form and color into which 
even flower-beds are arranged, do bring Nature into more fa- 
miliar connection with all which has served to cultivate, sweet- 
en, elevate the Mind of Man. All his arts, and not one alone, 
speak here ! What images from the old classic world of po- 
etry the mere shape of yon urn, or the gleam of yon statue, 
calls forth ! And even in those flower-beds, what science has 
been at patient work for ages, before the gracious forms by 
which Geometry alone can realize the symmetries of beauty, 
or the harmonies of hue and tint which we owe to research 
into the secrets of light and color, could have thus made Na- 
ture speak to us in the language of our choicest libraries, and 
symbolize, as it were, in the most pleasing characters, what- 
ever is most pleasing in the world of books." 

In these lengthened disquisitions Tracey had not been imin- 
terruj^ted. I had, from time to time, interposed dissentient re- 
marks, which, being of little consequence, I have well-nigh for- 
gotten, and it seems to me best, therefore, to preserve unbroken 
the chain of his discourse. But here I repeated to my host 
the painter's observation on the monotony of dressed ground 
in comparison with scenery altogether left to Nature, and ask- 
ed Tracey if he thought the observation true. 

" I suspect," he answered, " that it is true or false very much 
according to the degree to which the spectator's mind has been 
cultivated by books, and reflections drawn from them. My 
friend the painter is very young, and the extent of his reading, 
and, of coixrse, the scope of his reflections, have been hitherto 
circumscribed. I think that artistic garden-ground does, after 
a time, more than wildly natural landscape, tire upon the eye 



246 MOTIVE POWER. 

not educated in the associations and reminiscences whicli pre- 
serve an artistic creation from monotony to the gaze of one 
who draws fresh charms from it out of his own mind — a mind 
which has accustomed itself to revive remembered images or 
combine new reflections at every renewed contemj)lation of 
that art which comprises the aesthetic hisfory of man's rela- 
tionship with nature. Now our painter, habituated, very prop- 
erly, to concentrate his own thoughts on his own branch of 
art, observes, as something ever varying, the shadow that falls 
from the rude mountain-top on the crags and dells of the old 
forest-land on the other side of the park, and does not observe 
that, as the sun shifts, it must equally bring out into new va- 
riations of light and shadow these lawns and flights of stairs, 
because he is not a painter of gardens, and he is a painter of 
forest scenery. Had he been a painter of gardens, he would 
have discovered variety in the gardens, and complained of mo- 
notony in the forest-land. So let any man, who has not culti- 
vated his mind in the study of jDoems or pictures, be called 
npon to look every day at Milton's '- Paradise Lost,' or Raf- 
faelle's 'Virgin,' he will certainly find in either a very great 
sameness ; but let a man who, being either a very great poet, 
a very great painter, or a very profoundly educated critic on 
poetry or painting, look every day at the said poem or the said 
picture, and he will always find something new in what he 
contemplates — the novelty springing out of the fertility of per- 
ception which proceeds from the lengthened culture of his own 
taste. In short, there is nothing same or stale in any object 
of contemplation which is intimately allied to our own habits 
of culture; and that which is strange to those habits becomes, 
however multiform and varying its charms to another may be, 
insipid and monotonous to ourselves, just as the world of am- 
bition and of cities, with its infinite movement and play, to 
those whose lives are one study, of it, is to me ' weary, stale, 
flat, and unprofitable,' as all its uses seemed to Hamlet." 

Here our talk ended. Re-entering the library, we found 
Clara Thornhill at the piano, singing wmi exquisite sj)irit, and 
in the sweetest voice, 

"Under the greenwood tree, 
Who loves to lie with me, "etc. 

And so in song and music the rest of the evening wore away. 
The next morning the sun shone into my windows so bright- 



MOTIVE POWER. 247 

]y that I rose at an earlier hour than I had been accustomed 
to do for months, and strolled into the gardens, interesting 
myself in considering the j^ainter's charge against dressed 
ground and Tracey's ingenious reply to it. The mowers were 
at work upon the lawns. Perhaps among rural sounds there 
is none which pleases me more than that of the whetting of 
the scythe — I suppose less from any music in itself than from 
associations of midsummer, and hay-fields, and Milton's "Al- 
legro," in which the low, still sound is admitted among the 
joyous melodies of Morn. As the gardens opened upon me, 
with their variety of alleys and by-walks, I became yet more 
impressed than I had been on thc^ day before with the art 
which had planned and perfected them, and the poetry of taste 
Avith which the images of the sculptor were so placed, that at 
every turn they recalled some j)leasing but vague reminiscence 
of what one had seen in a picture or in travel, or brought more 
vividly before the mind some charming verse in the poets, 
whose busts greeted the eye from time to time in bowery nook 
or hospitable alcove, Avliere the murmur of a waterfall, or the 
view of a distant landscape opening from out the groves, in- 
vited pause and allured to contemplation. 

At last, an arched trellis overhung with vine-leaves led me 
out into that part of the park which fronted the library, and 
to which the painter had given his preference over the grounds 
I had just quitted. There, the wildness of the scenery came 
on me with the suddenness of a surprise. The table-land, on 
which the house stood on the other side of the building, here 
abruptly sloped down into a valley through which a stream 
wound in many a maze, sometimes amid jagged rock-like crags, 
sometimes through low grassy banks round which the deer 
were grouping. The view was very extensive, but not un- 
brokenly so ; here and tliere thick copses, in the irregular out- 
line of natural groves, shut out the valley, but still left toAver- 
ing in the background the wavy hill-tops, softly clear in the 
blue morning sky. Hitherto I had sided Avith Tracey; noAV 
I thought the painter right. In the garden, certainly, man's " 
mind forms a visible link with Nature ; but in those scenes of 
Nature not trimmed and decorated to the book-lore of man, 
Thought takes a less finite scope, and perhaps from its very 
vagueness is less inclined to find monotony and sameness in the 
Avide expanse over AAdiich it AA-anders to lose itself in reverie. 



248 MOTIVE POWER. 

Descending the liill-side, I reached the stream, and came 
suddenly npon Henry Thornhill, Avho, screened behind a gnarl- 
ed old pollard-tree, was dipping his line into a hollow where 
the waves seemed to calm themselves, and pause before they 
rushed, in cascade, down a flight of crags, and thence brawled 
loudly onward. 

As I know by experience how little an angler likes to be 
disturbed, I contented myself Avith a nod and a smile to the 
young man, and went my own way in silence ; but about an 
hour afterward, as I was winding back toward the house, I 
heard his voice behind me. I turned ; he showed me, with 
some pride, his basket already filled with trout; and after I 
had sufficiently admired and congratulated, we walked slowly 
up the slope together. The evening before, Captain Thornhill 
had prepossessed me less than the other members of the par- 
ty. He had. spoken very little, and aj)peared to me to have 
that air of supreme indifierence to all persons and things 
around him which makes so many young gentlemen like — so 
many young gentlemen. But this morning he was frank and 
communicative. 

" You have known Sir Percival very long, I think ?" said he. 

" Very long. I knew him before I had left Cambridge. In 
my rambles during a summer vacation, chance brought us to- 
gether ; and though he was then one of the most brilliant ora- 
cles of the world of fashion, and I an unknown collegian, some- 
how or other we became intimate." 

" I su2:)pose you find him greatly altered ?" 

" Do you mean in person or in mind ?" 

" Well, in both." 

" In person less altered than I could have suj^posed ; his fig- 
ure just the same — as erect, as light, and seemingly as vigor- 
ous. In mind I can not yet judge, but there is still the same 
sweetness and the same cheerfulness ; the same mixture of 
good-tempered irony and of that peculiar vein of sentiment 
which is formed by the combination of poetical feeling and 
philosophical contemplation." 

" He is a very fine fellow," returned Henry Thornhill, with 
some warmth ; " but don't you think it is a pity he should be 
so eccentric ?" 

"In what?" 

"In what? Why, in that which must strike every body; 



MOTIVE POWER. 249 

shirking his station, shutting himself up here, planning gardens 
■which nobody sees, and filling his head with learning for which 
nobody is the wiser." 

" His own friends see the gardens and enjoy them ; his own 
friends may, I suppose, hear him talk, and become the wiser 
for his leai'ning." 

"His own friends — yes! a dozen or two individuals; most 
of them undistinguished as — as I am," addeWthe young man, 
with visible bitterness. " And, with his talents and fortune, 
and political influence, he might be, or at least might have 
been, any thing ; don'kyou think so ?" 

"Any thing is a bold expression ; but if you mean that he 
might, if he so pleased, have acquired a very considerable rep- 
utation, and obtained a very large share of the rewards which 
ambitious men covet, I have no doubt that he could have done 
so, and very little doubt that he could do so still." 

" I wish you could stir him up to think it. I am vexed to 
see him so shelved in this out-of-the-way place. He has even 
given up ever going to Tracey Court now ; and as for his 
castle in Ireland, he would as soon think of going to Kamt- 
schatka." 

" I hope, at all events, his estates, whether in the north or in 
Ireland, are not ill managed." 

" No, I must say that no estates can be better managed ; 
and so they ought to be, for he devotes enormous sums to their 
improvement, as well as to all public objects in their district." 

" It seems, then, that if he shirks some of the pomps of 
wealth, he does not shirk its duties ?" 

" Certainly not, unless it be the duty which a great proprie- 
tor owes to himself." 

" What is that duty ?" 

The young man looked puzzled ; at last he said, 

"To make the most of his station." 

"Perhaps Sir Percival thinks it is better to make the most 
of his mind, and fancies he can do that better in the way of life 
which pleases him, than in that which would displease ; but he 
is lucky in stewards if his estates thrive so well without the 
watch of the master's eye." 

" Yes, but his stewards are gentlemen : one, at Tracey 
Court, is a Mr. Aston, an old schoolfellow of Sir Percival, who 
was brought up to expect a fine property at the death of an 

L2 



250 MOTIVE POWER. 

uncle; but the uncle unluckily married at the age of fifty, and 
had a large family. Sir Percival heard he was in distress, and 
gave him this aiDpointment ; it just suits him. The Irish stew- 
ard, Mr. Gerrard, is also a capital fellow, who traveled in the- 
East with Sir Percival. Being half Irish himself, Gerrard un- 
derstands liow to make the best of the population; and being 
half Scotch, he understands how to make the best of the prop- 
erty. I have uo^oubt that the estates are better managed in 
Sir Percival's absence than if he resided on them, for you know 
how good-natured he is. A bad tenant has only to get at his 
heart with a tale of distress in orderi^o renew his lease for 
whipping the land on his own terms." 

■ " So then," said I, " we have come at last to this conclusion, 
that your wise relation, knowing his own character in its mer- 
its and its failings, has done well in delegating to others, in 
whose probity and intellect he has a just confidence, the man- 
agement of those affairs which he could not administer him- 
self with equal benefit to all the persons interested. Is not 
that the way in which all states are governed ? The wisdom 
of a king in absolute governments, or of a minister in free 
ones, is in the selection of the right persons for the right 
places, thus working out a wise system through the instru- 
mentalities of those who best understand its details." 

"Yes; but, talking of ministers, Sir Percival makes nothing 
of his political influence ; he shuns all politics. Can you be- 
lieve it ? he scarcely ever looks into the leading article of a 
newspaper !" 

" To a man Avho has been long out of the way of party poli- 
tics, there is not the interest in leading articles which you and 
I take." 

"I rather think that Sir Percival does not like to be re- 
minded of politics, for fear he might be induced to take an in- 
terest in them." 

" Ah, indeed ! Why do you think so ?" 

" Because; three years ago. Lady Gertrude was very anxious 
that he should claim the old barony of Ravenscroft, which has 
been in abeyance for centuries, but to which the heralds and 
lawyers assured him there could be no doubt of his proving 
his right. Lady Gertrude was so intent upon this that at one 
time I thought she would have prevailed. He looked into the 
case, invited the lawyers here, satisfied himself that the proof 



jsiotite power. 251 

vr&s clear, and then suddenly forbade all steps to be taken. 
Lady Gertrude told me that lie said to her, 'For my family 
this honor is naught, since the title, if revived, would again 
die with me ; but for myself it is a temptation to change, to 
destroy the mode of life in which I am happiest, and in which, 
on the whole, I believe I am morally the least imperfect. If 
I once took my seat in the Lords, a responsible legislator, how 
do I know that I should not want to speak, to act, to vie with 
others, and become ambitious if successful, and fretful if not?'" 

" So he declined. Well, after all, a life most in harmony 
with a man's character is that in which he is i^robably not 
only the happiest, but the best man. Ambition is but noble 
in proportion as it makes men useful. But, from your own 
account, Tracey's private life is useful already, though its uses 
are not obtrusive. And for public life, three parts of the ac- 
complishments, and perhaps of the virtues, which make his 
private life beautiful, would not be needed." 

I uttered these defensive suggestions on behalf of my host 
somewhat in rebuke of the young relation whose criticisms 
had called them forth, l^hough in my own mind I felt a sort of 
melancholy regret that Percival's choice of life should be in 
walks so cool and sequestered, and the tenor of his way so 
noiseless : and did not his own fear to be tempted into more 
active exertions of intellect, if once brought under the influ- 
ence, of emulative competition, indicate that he himself also 
felt a regret, on looking back to the past, that he had acquired 
habits of mind to Avhich the thought of distinction had be- 
come a sensation of pain ? 

When our party assembled at breakfast, Tracey said to me, 
"I had no idea you were so early a riser, or I would have 
given up my ride to share your rambles." 

" Are yoit too, then, an early riser ?" 

"Yes, especially in summer. I have ridden twelve miles 
with Bourke to show him the remains of an old Roman tower 
which he has promised to preserve a few ages longer — in a 
pictxire." 

Here the entrance of the letter-bag suspended conversation. 
The most eager for its opening was young Thornhill, and his 
countenance became at once overcast when he found there was 
no letter for him, as mine, no doubt, became overcast wdien I 
found a large packet of letters forwarded to me. I had left 



252 MOTIVE POWER. 

town long before the post closed, and two or tliree hours suf- 
fice to bring plenty of troublesome correspondents upon a 
busy Londoner, My housekeeper had forwarded them all. I 
thmk Lady Gertrude was the only other one of our party for 
whom the jDOstman sped the soft intercourse from soul to 
soul. When I looked up from my letters, Henry Thornhill 
It ad already glanced rapidly over the panorama of the world 
displayed in the " Times" newspaper, and, handing it to the 
librarian, said disdainfully, " No news." 

" No news !" exclaimed Caleb Danvers, after his own first 

peep — " no news ! Why, Dr. 's great library is to be 

sold by auction on the 14th of next month!" 

" That is interesting news," said Tracey. " Write at once 
for the catalogue." 

"Any farther criticism on the Exhibition of the Royal 
Academy ?" asked the painter, timidly. 

" Two columns," answered Mr. Danvers, laconically. 

" Oh," said the painter, " that is interesting too." 

" I beg your pardon, Mr. Danvers," said Lady Gertrude, 
" but will you glance at the foreign intelhgence ? Look to 
Germany — any thing about the court of ?" 

"'The court of ? yes; our minister there is convales- 
cent, and going to Carlsbad next week." 

"That's what I wanted to know," said Lady Gertrude. 
" My letter is from his dear sister, who is very anxious jhout 
him. Going to Carlsbad — I am glad to hear it." 

Meanwhile Clara, Avho had possessed herself of the supple- 
mentary sheet, cried out joyously, "Oh, dear Henry, only 
think — Ellen has got a baby. LTow pleased they will be at 
the Grange ! A son and heir at last !" 

" Tut !" growled Henry, breaking an egg-shell. 

" So," said Tracey, " you see the ' Times' has news for every 
one except my friend here, who read in London yesterday 
what we in the country read to-day ; and Captain Thornhill, 
who finds nothing that threatens to break the peace of the 
world, to the promotion of himself and the decimation of his 
regiment." 

Henry laughed, but not without constraint, and muttered 
something about civilians being unable to understand the in- 
terest a soldier takes in his j^rofession. 

After breakfast, Tracey said to me, "Doubtless you have 



MOTIVE POWEK. 253 

your letters to answer, and will be glad to have your forenoon 
to yourself. About two o'clock we propose adjourning to a 
certain lake, which is well shaded from the sun. I have a rude 
summer pavilion on the banks ; there we can dine, and shun 
the Dogstar. Clara, who happily does not know that I am 
tliinking of Tyndaris, will bring her lute, Aunt Gertrude her 
Avork, Bourke his sketch-book ; and the lake is large enough 
for a sailing excursion, if Henry will kindly exchange, for the 
day, military repose for nautical activity." 

All seemed pleased with the proposal except Henry, who 
merely shrugged his shoulders, and the party dispersed for the 
morning. 

My letters were soon dispatched, and my instincts or habits 
(which are, practically speaking, much the same thing) drew 
me into the library. Certainly it was a very noble collection 
of books, and exceedingly well arranged. Opening volume 
after volume, I found that most of those containing works of 
imperishable name were interleaved, and the side-pages thus 
formed were inscribed with critical notes and comments in my 
host's handwriting. 

I was greatly struck with the variety and minuteness of the 
knowledge in many departments, whether of art, scholarship, 
or philosophy, which these annotations displayed, and tlie ex- 
quisite critical discrimination and taste by which the knowl- 
edge was vivified and adorned. While thus gratifying my ad- 
miring curiosity, I was accosted by the librarian, who had en- 
tered the room unobserved by me. 

" Ay," said he, glancing over my shoulder at the volume in 
my hand, " Shakspeare ; I see you have chanced there upon 
one of Sir Percival's most interesting speculations. He seeks 
first to prove how much more largely than is generally sui> 
posed Shakspeare borrowed, in detail, from others ; and, next, 
to show how much more patently than is generally supposed 
Shakspeare reveals to us his own personal nature, his religious 
and political beliefs, his favorite sentiments and cherished opin- 
ions. In fact, it is one of Sir Percival's theories, that, though 
the Drama is, of all compositions, that in which the author can 
least obtrude on us his personality, yet that of all dramatists 
Shakspeare the most frequently presents to us his own. Our 
subtle host seeks to do this by marking all the passages of as- 
sertion or reflection in Shakspeare's plays which are not pecul- 



254 MOTIVE POWJEE. 

iarly appropriate to the speaker, nor called for by the situa- 
tion — often, indeed, purely episodical to the action ; and where, 
iu such passages, the same or similar ideas are repeated, he ar- 
gues that Shakspeare himself is speaking, and not the person 
in the dialogue. I observe in the page you have opened that 
Sir Percival is treating of the metaphysical turn of mind so re- 
markably developed in Shakspeare, and showing how much 
that turn of mind was the character o^the exact time in which 
he lived. You see how appositely he quotes from Sir John 
Davies, Shakspeare's contemporary, who, though employed in 
active professional pursuits — a lawyer, nay, even an attorney 
general and a sergeant ; a member of Parliament, nay, even a 
speaker, and in an Irish House of Commons — prepared him- 
self for those practical paths of life by the comjiosition of a 
poem the most purely and profoundly metaphysical which En- 
gland, or indeed modern Europe, has ever produced : at this 
day it furnishes the foundation of all our immaterial schools of 
metaphysics. You will see, if you look on, how clearly Sir 
Percival shows that Shakspeare had intently studied that poem, 
and imbued his own mind not so much with its doctrines as 
with its manner of thought." 

" Tracey was always fond of metaphysics, and of applying 
his critical acuteness to the illustration of poets. I am pleased 
to see he has, in the tastes of his youth, so pleasing a resource 
in his seclusion." 

" But it is not only in metaphysics or poetry that he occu- 
pies his mind ; you might be still more forcibly struck with his 
information and his powers of reasoning if you opened any of 
the historians he has interleaved — Clarendon, for instance, or 
our earlier Chronicles. I can not but think he would have 
been a remarkable writer if he had ever acquired the concen- 
tration of purpose for which, perhaps, the idea of publishing 
what one writes is indispensably necessar3%" 

" Has he never had the ambition to be an author ?" 

" Never since I have known him ; and he never could con- 
ceive it now. You look as if you thought that a pity." 

" ^Yel\, is it not a pity ?" 

" Sir," quoth the librarian, taking snuff, " that is not a fair 
question to put to me, who have passed my life in reading 
books, and cherishing a humane compassion for those who are 
compelled to write them. But permit me to ask whether a 



MOTIVE POWER. 255 

very clever man, himself a volumiuous writer, has not com- 
posed a popular work called the ' Calamities of Authors ?' 
Did you ever know any writer who has composed a work on 
tfie ' FeUcities of Authors ?' Do you think, from your own ex- 
perience, that you could write such a work yourself?" 

"Rhetorically, yes; conscientiously, no. But let us hope 
that the calamities of authors lead to the felicities of readers." 

Thus talking, we arrived at the librarian's own private sanc- 
tuary, a small study at the end of the library, looking on the 
wilder part of the park. Pointing to doors on the opposite 
side of a corridor, he said, " Those lead to Sir Percival's private 
apartments : they are placed in the Belvidere tower, the high- 
est room of which he devotes to his scientific pursuits ; and. 
those pursuits occupy him at this uioment, for he expects a visit 
Very shortly from a celebrated Swedish philosoiDher, with whom 
he has opened a correspondence." 

I left the librarian to his books, and took my way into the 
drawing-room. There I found only Clara Thornhill, seated by 
the window, and with a mournful shade on her countenance, 
which habitually was cheerful and sunny. I attributed the 
shade to the guilty Henry, and my conjecture proved right ; 
for, after some small-talk on various matters, I found myself 
suddenly admitted into her innocent confidence. Henry was 
unhappy ! Unreasonable man ! A time had been when Hen- 
ry had declared that the supremest happiness of earth would 
be -to call Clara his ! Such happiness then seemed out of his 
reach ; Clara's parents were ambitious, and Henry had no for- 
tune but "his honor and his sword." Percival Tracej, Deus 
ex machind, had stepped in — propitiated Clara's parents by 
handsome settlements. Henry's happiness was apparently se- 
cm-ed. Percival had bestowed on him an independent income ; 
had sought to domiciliate him in his own neighborhood by the 
offer of a charming cottage which Tracey had built by the sea- 
side as an occasional winter residence for himself; had pro- 
posed to find him occupation as a magistrate — nay, as a com- 
manding oflicer of gallant volunteers — in vain : 
"He ■n-as fill for deeds of arms ; 
Honor called him to the field." 

The trophies of Miltiades would not suffer him to sleep. 

Henry had been moving heaven and earth to get removed 
into a regiment which was ordered abroad, not exactly for 



250 MOTIVE POWER, 

what we call a \var, but for one of those smaller sacrifices of 
human life which are always going on somewhere or other in 
distant corners of our empire, and make less figure in our an- 
nals than tliey do in our estimates. Such trivial enterprises 
mio-ht at least prepare his genius and expedite his promotion. 

"Mox in reluctantes dracones," etc. 

Percival, who was in secret league with Clara against this 
restlessness for renown which it is to be fervently hoped the 
good sense of Europe will refuse to gratify, had done his best, 
by a pleasant irony and banter, to ridicule Henry out of his 
martial discontent. In vain : Henry only resented his kins- 
man's disapproval of his honorable ambition, and hence his re- 
gret that Sir Percival did not "make the most of his station." 
Surely, did he do so, a w' ord from a man of such political im- 
portance in point of territory would have due efi:ect on the 
Horse-Guards. Henry thought himself entitled not only to a 
chance of fighting, but to the dignity of major. All this, by 
little and little, though in her own artless words, and in wife- 
like admiration of Henry's military genius as well as ardor, I 
extracted from Clara, who (all women being more or less, 
though often unconsciously, artful in the confidences with 
which they voluntarily honor our sex) had her own reason for 
frankness ; she had seen Sir Percival since breakfast, and he 
had sought to convince her that it would be wise to let Plenry 
have his own way. The cunning creature wished me to rea- 
son with Tracey, and set before him all the dangers to limb 
and life to which even a skirmish with barbarians might ex- 
pose a life so invaluable as her Henry's. "I could see him de- 
part without a tear if it were to defend Ms country," said she, 
Avith spirit, " but to think of all the hardships he must under- 
go in a savage land, and fighting for nothing I can compre- 
hend, against a people I never heard of — that is hard! it is so 
reckless in him ! and, poor dear, his health is delicate, though 
you would not think it !" 

I promised all that a discreet diplomatist under such unto- 
ward circumstances could venture to promise ; and on the 
painter entering the room, jDoor Clara went up stairs, trying 
her womanly best to smile away her tears. 

Left alone with the artist, he drew my attention to some 
pictures on the wall w^hich had been painted by Sir Percival 



MOTIVE POWER. 251 

commended their gusto and brilliancy of execution, and then 
said, " If our host had begun life on fifty pounds a year, he 
Avould have been a great painter." 

" Does it require poverty in order to paint well ?" 

" It requires, I suppose, a motive to do any thing exceed- 
ingly well; and what motive could Sir Percival Tracey have 
to be a professed painter ?" 

" I think you have hit on the truth in his'painting, and per- 
haps in his other accomplishments : all he wants is the con- 
centration of motive." 

"Is it not that want which makes three fourths of the dif- 
ference between the famous man and the obscure man?" 
asked the painter. 

"Perhaps not three fourths; but if it make one fourth, it 
would go a long Avay to account for the diiference. One good 
of a positive profession is that it supplies a definite motive for 
any movement which the intellect gives itself the trouble to 
take. He who enters a profession naturally acquires the de- 
sire to get on in it, and perhaps in the profession of art more 
ardently than in any other, because a man does not take to art 
from sheer necessity, and without any inclination for it, but 
loit/i a strong inclination, to which necessity gives the patient 
forces of labor. I j^resume that I am right in this conjecture." 

" Yes," said the painter, ingenuously. " So far back as I 
can remember, I had an inclination, nay, a passion for paint- 
ing; still, I might not have gone through the requisite drudg- 
ery and apprenticeship — might not have studied the naked 
figure when I wished to get at once to some gorgeous draper- 
ies, or fi^gged at perspective when I wanted to deck out a sun- 
set, if I had not had three sisters and a widowed mother to 
think of." 

"I comprehend ; but, now that you have mastered the fun- 
damental difliculties of your art, and accustomed yourself to 
hope for fame in the fuller and freer develo23ments of that art, 
do you think that you would gladly accept the wealth of Sir 
Percival Tracey on the condition that you were never to paint 
for the public, and to renounce every idea of artistic distinc- 
tion? or, if you did accept that ofter for the sake of your sis- 
ters and mother, Avould it be with reluctance and the J^ang of 
self-sacrifice ?" 

"I don't think I could accept such an offer on such con- 



258 MOTIVE POWER. 

ditions even for them. I am now, sir, utterly unknown — at 
best, one of tliose promising pupils of whom there are hund- 
reds ; but still I think there is a something in me as painter, 
as artist, which would break my heart if, some day or other, 
it did not force itself out." 

" Then you would not lose your motive for becoming a 
great painter, even did you succeed to the wealth and station 
which you say deprive Sir Percival of a motive, supposing 
that, in accepting such gifts of fortune, you were not required 
to sacrifice the inclination you take from Nature ?" 

" j^o, I should not lose the motive. Better famine in a gar- 
ret than obscurity in a palace !" 

Our conversation was here broken off by the entrance of 
Lady Gertrude. " It is just time for our expedition," said she. 
" I think it is about to strike two, and Percival is always 
punctual." 

" I am quite ready," said I. 

"And I shall be so in five minutes," cried the painter; "I 
must run up stairs for my sketch-book." 

" Oh, I see what is keeping my nephew," said Lady Ger- 
trude, looking out of the window; and as I joined her she 
drew my attention to two figures walking slowly in the gar- 
den ; in one I recognized Tracey, the other was unknown to 
me. 

" He must have come by the early train," said Lady Ger- 
trude, musingly. " I wonder ,whether he means to stay and 
go with us to the lake." 

" You mean the gentleman in black ?" said I ; "I think not, 
whoever he may be, for, see, he is just shaking hands with 
Tracey like a man who is about to take leave. By his dress 
he seenas a clergyman." 

"Yes, don't betray me — Percival's London almoner. My 
nephew has employed him for seven years, and it is only with- 
in the last year that I discovered by accident what the employ- 
ment is. He comes here when he likes — seldom stays over a 
day. One of those good men who are bored if they are not 
always about their work ; and, indeed, he bores Percival by 
constantly talking of sorrow and suffering, which Percival is 
always Avishing to relieve, but never wishes to hear discussed. 
You don't know to what a degree my nephew carries his foi- 
ble !" 



MOTIVE POWER. 259 

"What foible?" 

" That of clesiiing every body to be and to look happy. A 
year ago, his valet, who had lived with him since he came of 
age, died. I found him another valet, with the highest char- 
acter — the best servant possible — not a fault to find with him ; 
but he had a very melancholy expression of countenance. 
This fretted Percival ; he complained to me. ' Dolman is un- 
happy or discontented,' ho said. ' Find out what it is ; reme- 
dy it.' I spoke to the poor man ; he declared himself most 
satisfied, most fortunate in obtaining such a place. Still he 
continued to look mournful. Percival could not stand it. One 
day he thrust a bauk-note into the man's hand, and said, ' Go, 
friend, and before sunset look miserable elsewhere.' " 

I was laughing at this characteristic anecdote when Perci- 
val entered the room with his usual beaming aspect and elas- 
tic step. " Ready ?" said he ; " that's well : will you ride Avith 
me?" (this addressed to myself). "I have a capital sure-foot- 
ed pony for you." 

"I thought of giving your friend a seat in my pony-chaise," 
said Lady Gertrude. 

Percival glanced at his aunt quickly, and replied, " So be it." 
I should have preferred riding Avith Tracey ; but, before he 
set olf, he whispered in my ear, "It makes the dear woman 
happy to monopolize a new-comer, otherwise — " He stopped 
short, and I resigned myself to the pony-chaise. 

" Pray," said Lady Gertrude, when we were fairly but slow- 
ly in movement along a shady road in the park, " pray, don't 
you think it is very much to be regretted that Percival should 
be single — should never have married ?" 

'^I don't know. He seenrs to me very happy as he is." 

" Yes, happy, no doubt. I believe he would make himself 
happy in a dungeon ; and — " Lady Gertrude rather spiteful- 
ly Avhipped the ponies. 

" Perhaps," said I, as soon as I had recovered the first sen- 
sation of alarm, with which I am always seized when by the 
side of ladies who drive ponies and whip them, " perhaps," said 
I — "take care of that ditch — perhaps Percival has never seen 
the woman with whom it would be felicity to share a dun- 
geon." 

" When you knew him first, while he was yet young, did 
you think him a man not likely to fall very violently in love ?" 



260 MOTIVE POWER. 

"Well, 'fall' and 'violently' are two words that I should 
never have associated with his actions at any time of life. But 
I should have said that he was a man not likely to form a very 
passionate attachment to any woman who did not satisfy his 
refinement of taste, which is exquisitely truthful when applied 
to poems and statues, but a little too classically perfect for 
just appreciation of flesh and blood, at least in that sex whicli 
is so charming that every defect in it is a^shock on the heaic 
ideal!''' 

" jSTevertheless," said Lady Gertrude, after acknowledging, 
with a gracious smile, the somewhat old-fashioned gallantry 
conveyed in my observations, " nevertheless, Percival has loved 
deeply and fervently, and, what may seem to you strange, has 
been crossed in his affections." 

"Strange! Alas! in love nothing is strange. Xo one is 
loved for his merits any more than for his fortune or rank ; but 
men, and women too, are married for their merits, and still 
more for their rank and their fortune. I can imagine, there- 
fore, though with clifiiculty, a girl wooed by Percival Tracey 
not returning his love, but I can not conceive her refusing his 
hand. How was it ?" 

"You see how I am confiding in you. But you are almost 
the only friend of his youth whom Percival has invited as his 
guest, and your evident api^reciation of his worth at once 
opens my heart to you. In the course of that lengthened ab- 
sence from England, on the eve of which you took leave of 
him nearly thirty years ago, Percival formed a close friendship 
Avith a fellow-traveler in the East — Percival considers that to 
the courage, presence of mind, and devotion of this gentleman, 
a few years younger than himself, he owed his life in some en- 
counter with robbers. Mr. Gerrard (that is this friend's name) 
was poor and without a profession. When Percival Avas about 
to return to Europe, he tried in vain to persuade Mr. Gerrard 
to accompany him — meaning, though he did not say so, to ex- 
ert such interest with ministers as he possessed to obtain for 
Gerrard some honorable opening in the public service. The 
young man refused, and declared his intention of settling per- 
manently at Cairo. Percival, in the course of his remonstran- 
ces, discovered that the cause of this self-exile was a hopeless 
attachment, which had destroyed all other objects of ambition 
in Gerrard's life, and soured him with the world itself. He 



MOTIVE POWEE. 261 

did not, however, mention the name of the lady, nor the rea- 
sons which had deprived his aiiection of hope. Well, Percival 
left him at Cairo, and traveled back into Europe. At a Ger- 
man spa he became acquainted Avith an Irish j^eer who had run 
out his fortune, been compelled to sell his estates, and was liv- 
ing upon a small annuity allowed to him either by his credit- 
ors or his relations — a man very clever, very accomplished, not 
of very high principle, and sanguine of bettering his own posi- 
tion, and regaining the luxuries to which he had been accus- 
tomed through some brilliant marriage which the beauty of 
his only daughter might enable her to make. Beauty to a 
very rare degree she jDOSsessed — nor beauty alone ; her mind 
was unusually cultivated, and her manners singularly fascina- 
ting. You guess already ?" 

"Yes. Percival saw here one with whom he did not fall 
in love, but for whom he rose into love. He found his ideal." 

"Exactly so. I need not say that the father gave him all 
encouragement. Percival was on the point of proposing when 
he received a letter from Mr. Gerrard (to whom he had writ- 
ten some weeks before, communicating the acquaintance he 
had made and the admiration he had conceived), and the let- 
ter, written under great excitement, revealed the object of 
Gerrard's hopeless attachment. Of Irish family himself, he 
had known this young lady from her childhood, and from her 
childhood loved her. He had been permitted to hope by Lord 
, who was at that time in a desperate struggle to con- 
ceal or stave off his ruin, and who did not scruple to borrow 
from his daughter's suitor all that he could extract from him. 

Thus, when the final crash came. Lord 's ruin involved 

nearly the whole of Gerrard's patrimony, and, of course. Lord 

declared that a marriage was impossible between two 

young persons who had nothing to live upon. It was thus 
that Edmund Gerrard had become an exile. 

"This intelligence at once reversed the position of the rivals. 
From that moment Percival devoted himself to bless the life 
of the man who had saved his own. How he effected this ob- 
ject I scarcely know ; but Lord gave his consent to 

Gerrard's suit, and lived six years longer with much pomp and 
luxury in Paris. Gerrard settled Avith his wife in Percival's 
Irish castle, and administers Percival's Irish estates at a salary 
which ranks him with the neighboring gentry. But Percival 



262 MOTIVE POWER. 

never visits that property. I do not think he -would trust 
himself to see the only woman he ever loved as the wife of an- 
other, though she is no longer young, and is the mother of 
children, whose future fortunes he has doubtless assured." 

" What you tell me," said I, with emotion, " is so consistent 
with Tracey's character that it gives me no surprise. That 
which does surprise me is, not the consent of the ruined fa- 
ther, but the consent of the accomplished daughter. Did Per- 
cival convince himself that she preferred his rival ?" 

" That is a question I can scarcely answer. My own belief 
is, that her first fancy had been caught by Gerrard, and that 
she had given him cause to believe that that first fancy was en- 
during love ; but that, if her intimate acqixaintauce with Per- 
cival had continued longer, and had arrived at a stage at which 
his heart had been confessed to her, and her own heart frankly 
wooed, the first fancy would not have proved endiwing love. 
But the acquaintance did not reach to that stage ; and I have 
always understood that her marriage has been a very happy 
one." 

" In that happiness Tracey is consoled ?" 

"Yes, now, no doubt. But I will tell you this, that as soon 
as all the obstacles to the marriage were removed, and Ger- 
rard on his way from the East, Percival left Germany and 
reached Lausanne, to be seized with a brain fever which threat- 
ened his life, and from the effects of which it was long before 
he recovered. But answer me candidly one question, Do you 
think it is too late in life for him to marry yet ?" 

Poor Lady Gertrude asked this question in so pleading a 
tone of voice, that I found it very difficult to answer with the 
candor Avhich was insisted on as the condition of my reply. 
At length I said bravely, 

"My dear Lady Gertrude, if a man hard upon sixty chooses 
to marry, it becomes all his true friends to make the best of 
it, and say that he has done a wise thing; but if asked before- 
hand whether it be not too late in life for such an experiment, 
a true friend must answer ' Yes.' " 

"Yet there have been very happy marriages with great 
disparity of years," said Lady Gertrude, musingly, " and Perci- 
val is very yoimg for his age." 

"Excellent after-reflections, if he do marry. But is he not 
very happy as he is ? I know not why, but you all seem to 



MOTIVE POWER. 263 

conspire against bis being bappy in bis own way. One of you 
wants bim to turn politician, anotber to turn Benedict. For 
my part, tbe older I grow, tbe more convinced I am of tbe 
trutb of one maxim, wbetber for public life or for private — 
'Leave well alone.' " 

By tbis time Ave bad arrived into tbe beart of a forest tbat 
reabzed one's dreams of Ardens ; a young man would bave 
looked round for a Rosalind, a moralizing sage for a Jaques. 
Many a green vista was cut tbrougb tbe mass of summer foli- 
age, and in full view before us stretched a large wild lake, its 
sides bere and tbere clotbed with dipping trees or clustered 
brushwood. On tbe opposite margin, to which, in a neck of 
the lake, a rustic bridge gave access, tbere was a long and pic- 
turesque building, in the style of those quaint constructions of 
white plaster and black oak beams and rafters which are still 
seen in Cheshire, but with ruder reliefs of logwood pilasters 
and balconies ; a charming old-fashioned garden stretched be- 
fore it, rich in tbe genuine English flowers of the Elizabethan 
day ; and scattered round, on inviting spots, were lively:Color- 
ed tents and awnings. Tbe heron rose alarmed from the reeds 
as we drew near the water; but the swans, as if greeting the 
arrival of familiar friends, sailed slowly toward us. Tracey 
bad already arrived at the cottage, and we saw bim dismount- 
ing at the door, and talking to an old couple who came out to 
meet and welcome bim. 

"I believe," said Lady Gertrude, "that Percival's secret 
reason for building tbat cottage was to 2:>lace in it those two 
old servants from Tracey Court. They had known bim there 
Avben be was a boy, and are so attached to bim tbat they im- 
plored him to let them serve bim wherever be resided. But 
they were too old and too opinionated to suit our moderate 
establishment, which does not admit of supernumeraries, so be 
suddenly found out that it would be very pleasant to have a 
forest lodge for the beats of sxnnmer, built tbat bouse, and 
placed them iu it. The old woman, who was housekeeper at 
Tracey Court, is, however, as I hope you will acknowledge, a 
very good cook on these holiday occasions ; and her husband, 
who was butler there, is so proud and so happy to wait on us, 
tbat — But no doubt you understand bow young it makes us 
old folks feel to see those who remember us in our youth, and 
to whom we are still young." 



264 MOTIVE POWEE. 

Our party now assembled iu front of the forest lodge, and 
the grooms took back the ponies, with orders to return before 
nightfall. Tracey carried me over the lodge, while Henry 
Thornhill and the painter busied themselves with a small sail- 
ing vessel which rode at anchor in a tiny bay. 

This rustic habitation was one for which two lovers might 
have sighed. Its furniture very simple, but picturesquely ar- 
ranged, with some of those genuine relics of the Elizabethan 
age, or perhaps rather that of James I., which are now rarely 
found, though their Dutch imitations are in every curiosity- 
shop. As iu the house Ave had left there was every where im- 
l^ressive the sentiment of the classic taste, so here all expressed 
the sentiment of that day in our own history which we asso- 
ciate with the poets, who are ovr most beloved classics. It 
was difficult, when one looked round, to suppose that the house 
could have been built and furnished by a living contemporary ; 
it seemed a place in which Milton might have lodged when he 
wrote the "Lycidas," or Izaak Walton and Cotton have sought 
shelter in the troubled days of the Civil War, with a sigh of 
poetic regret as they looked around for the yet earlier age 
when Sidney escaped from courts to meditote the romance of 
" Arcadia." 

" I have long thought," said Tracey, " that if we studied the 
t^ecrets of our English climate a little more cai^efully than most 
of us do, we could find, within a very small range, varieties of 
climate which might allow us to dispense with many a long 
journey. For instance, do you not observe how much cooler 
and fresher the atmosphere is here than in the villa yonder, 
though it is but five miles distant ? Here, not only the sun is 
broken by the forest-trees, but the ground is much more ele- 
vated than it is yonder. We get the bracing air of the north- 
ern hills, to which I have opened the woods, and here, in the 
hot relaxing days of summer, I often come for days or Aveeks 
together. The lodge is not large enough to admit more than 
two, or at most three other visitors, and therefore it is only 
very intimate friends whom I can invite. But I always look 
forward to a fortnight or so here as a time to be marked with 
the whitest chalk, and begin to talk of it as soon as the earli- 
est nightingale is heard. Again, on the other extremity of my 
property, by the sea-side, I have made my winter residence, 
my Tarentum, my Naples, my Nice. There, the aspect is due 



MOTIVE POWER. 265 

south — cliffs, ranged in semicircle, form an artificial screen from 
the winds and frosts. The cottage I have built there is a sun- 
trap. At Christmas I breakfast in a bower of geraniums, and 
walk by hedgerows of fuchsia and myrtle. All this is part of 
my philosophical plan on settling down for life, viz., to collect 
all the enjoyments this life, can give me into the smallest pos- 
sible compass. Before you go, you must see my winter re- 
treat. I should like to prove to you how many climates, with 
a little heed, an Englishman may find within a limit of twenty 
miles. I had thought of giving Bellevue (my sea-side cottage) 
to the Thornhills, and delighted in the thought of becoming 
their guest in the winter, for Aunt Gertrude does not fancy the 
place as I do, and wherever I go I can not live quite alone, nor 
quite without that humanizing effect of drawing-room scenery 
which the play-writers call ' petticoat interest.' But when a 
man allows himself to be selfish he deseiwes to be jDunished. 
HenryThornhill disdains Bellevue and comfort, and insists on 
misery and bivouacs." 

" Ah ! my dear Tracey," said I, mindful of my promise to 
Clara, " Henry Thornhill is much too fine a young fellow to be 
wasted upon ignoble slaughter, and still more ignoble agues 
and marsh fevers. I hope you do not intend to gratify his 
prepostei'ous desire to plant laurels at the other end of the 
world, and on soil in which it may be reasonably doubted 
whether any laurels will grow — " 

Tracey's brow became clouded. He threw himself on a seat 
niched into the recess of a lattice window, looked out at first 
abstractedly, and then, as the cloud left his brow, observantly. 

" See, my dear friend," said he, " see how listlessly, for a 
mere holiday j^leasure, that brave lad is running up the sails. 
Do you think that he would be thus indifterent if he were 
clearing decks for a fight — if responsibility, and honor, and 
duty, and fame were his motive powers ? No. If he staid at 
home inactive he would be miserable the more Clara and I 
tried to make him happy in our holiday way. That which a 
man feels, however unphilosophically (according to other men's 
philosophy), to be an essential to the object for which he deems 
it noble to exist, that the man must do, or at least attempt ; 
if we prevent him, we mar the vei'y clockwork of his existence, 
for we break its mainspring. Henry must have his own Avav. 
And I say that for Clara's sake ; for if he has not, he will seek 

M 



26G MOTIVE POWEE, 

excitement in something else, and become a bad man and a 
very bad husband." 

" Hem !" said I ; "of course you know him best ; but I oavu 
I do not see in him a genius equal to his restlessness or his 
ambition, and I think his wife very superior to himself in intel- 
lect. If, besides giving him your ^ea-side villa, you gave him 
a farm, surely he might become lamous for his mangel-wurzel ; 
and it is easier for all men, including even Henry Thornhill, to 
grow capital wurzel than it is to beat Hannibal or Wellington." 

"Pish!" said Tracey, smiling; "you ought to know man- 
kind too well to think seriously what you say in sarcasm. 
Pray, where and what would England be if every sharp young 
fellow in the army did not set a Hannibal or a Wellington be- 
fore his eyes, or if every yoimg politician did not haunt his vis- 
ions with a Pitt, a Fox, or a Burke ? What Henry Thornhill 
may become, Heaven only knows ; but if you could have met 
Arthur Wellesley before he went to India, do you think you 
would have guessed that he would become the hero of En- 
gland ? Can any of us detect beforehand the qualities of a 
man of action ? Of a man of letters, yes ; to a certain degree, 
at least. We can often, though not always, foresee whether a 
man may become a great writer ; but a great man of action — 
no ! Henry has no literature, no literary occuj)ation, nor even 
amusement. Probably Hannibal had none, and Wellington 
very little. Href — he thinks his destiny is action, and military 
action. Every man should have a fair chance of fulfilling what 
he conceives to be his destiny. Suppose Henry Thornhill fail ; 
what then ? He comes back reconciled to what fate will still 
tender him — reconciled to my sea-side villa — to his charming 
wife — reconciled to life as it is for him. But now he is covet- 
ing a life which may be. A man only does that which fate 
intends him to do in proportion as he obeys the motive which 
gives him his power in life. Henry Thornhill's motive is mil- 
itary ambition. It is no use arguing the point; what man 
thinks, he is." 

I bowed my head. I felt that Tracey was right, and sighed 
aloud, "Poor little Clara!" 

" Poor little Clara !" said Tracey, sighing also, " must, like 
other poor dear little loving women, take her chance. If her 
Henry succeed, how proud she will be to congratulate him ; 
if he fail, how proud she will be to console him !" 



MOTIVE POWER. 267 

" Ah ! Tracey," said I, rising, " in all you have said I recog- 
nize your acute discernment and your depth of reasoning. 
But when you not only concede to, but approve the motive 
power which renders this young man restless, pray forgive so 
old a friend for wondering why you yourself have n^ev found 
some motive power which might, long ere this, have rendered 
you renowned." 

"Hush!" said Tracey, with his winning, matchless smile; 
" hush ! look out on you woods and waters. Has not the life 
which Nature bestows on any man who devoutly loves her a 
serener happiness than can be found in the enjoyments that es- 
trange us from her charms? How few understand the dis- 
tinction between life artificial and life artistic ! Artificial ex- 
istence is a reverence for the talk of men ; artistic existence is 
in the supreme indifference to the talk of men. You and I, in 
different ways, seek to comj^lete our being on earth, not artifi- 
cially, but artistically. Neither of us can be an insincere mouth- 
piece of talk in which we have no faith. You can not write 
in a book — you can not say in a speech — that which you know 
to be a falsehood. But the artificial folks are the very echoes 
of falsehood ; the noise they make is in repeating its last 
sounds. '' An artist must be true to nature, even though he add 
to nature something from his soul of man which nature can 
not give in her representations of truth. Is it not so?' 

"Certainly," said I, with warmth. "I could neither write 
nor speak what I did not believe to be, in the main, truthful. 
A man may or may not, according to the quality of his mind, 
give to nature that which clearly never can be in nature, viz., 
the soul or the intellect of man ; but soul or intellect he must 
give to nature — that is, to every thing which external objects 
present to his senses as truthful — or he is in art a charlatan, 
and in action a knave. But then Truth, as Humanity knows 
it, is not what the schoolmen call it. One and Indivisible ; it is 
like light, and splits not only into elementary colors, but into 
numberless tints. Truth Avith Raffaelle is not the same as 
truth with Titian ; truth with Shakspeare is not the same as 
truth Avitli Milton; truth with St.Xavier is not the same as 
truth with Luther ; truth with Pitt is not the same as truth 
Avith Fox. Each man takes from life his favorite truth, as 
each man takes from light his favorite color." 

"Bravo !" cried Tracey, clapping his hands. 



268 MOTIVE POWEE. 

" Why bravo ?" cried I, testily. " Can the definition I haz- 
ard be construed into a defense of what I presume to be your 
view of the individual allegiance which each man owes to truth 
as he conceives it? No; for each man is bound to support 
and illusljiate, with all his power, truth as truth seems to him, 
Raffaelle as Rafiiaelle, Titian as Titian, Shakspeare as Shak- 
speare, Milton as Milton, Pitt as Pitt, Fox as Fox. And the 
man who says ' I see truth in my own way, and I do not care 
to serve her cause ;' who, when Nature herself, ever moving, 
ever active, exhorts him to bestir himself for the truth he sur- 
veys, and to animate that truth with his own life and deed, 
shrugs his shoulder, and cries '■Cut honof that man, my dear 
Tracey, may talk very finely about despising renown, but in 
reality he shufiies ofii'duty. Pardon me, I am thinking of you. 
I would take your part against others ; but as friend to friend, 
and to your oAvn face, I condemn you." 

To this discourteous speech Tracey was about to reply, 
when Lady Gertrude and Clara Thornhill entered the room 
to tell us that the boat was ready, and that we had less than 
two hours for aquatic adventure, as we were to dine at five. 

" I am not sorry to have a little time to think over my an- 
swer to those reproaches which are compliments on the lips 
of friends," said Tracey to me, resting his arm on my shoulder; 
and in a few minutes more we were gliding over the lake, 
with a gentle breeze from the hills, just lively enough to fill 
the sail. Clara, bewitchingest of those womanliest women 
who unfairly enthrall and subdue us, while we not only know 
that their whole hearts are given to another, but love and re- 
spect them the more for it — Clara nestled herself by my side. 
And I had not even the satisfaction of thinking that that in- 
famous Henry was jealous. He did indeed once or twice pause 
from his nautical duties to vouchsafe us a scowl, but it was 
sufiiciently evident that the monster was only angry because 
he knew that Clara loved him so Avell that she was seeking to 
enlist me on her side against-his abominable ambition of learn- 
ing the art of homicide. 

" Well," whispered Clara to me, " well, you have spoken to 
Sir Percival !" 

" Alas ! yes, and in vain. He thinks that for your sake 
Henry must fulfill that dream of heroism which perhaps first 
won your heart to him. Women very naturally love heroes. 



MOTIVE POWER. 269 

but then they must pay the tax for that noble attachment. 
Henry must become the glory of his country, and a major of 
a regiment in active service. My dear child — I mean, my dear 
Mrs. Thornhill — don't cry ; be a hero's wife. Tracey has con- 
vinced me that Henry is right ; and my firm belief is, that the 
chief motive which makes Henry covet laurels is to lay them 
at your feet." 

"The darling!" murmured Clara. 

" You see your parents very naturally wished you to make 
a better worldly marriage. That difficulty was smoothed 
over, not by the merits of Henry, but the money of Sir Perci- 
val Tracey. Could you respect your husband if he were not 
secretly chafed at that thought. He desires to lift himself up 
to you even in your parents' eyes, not by a miserable pecuniary 
settlement eflected through a kinsman, but by his own deeds. 
Oppose that, and you humiliate him. Never humiliate a hus- 
band. Yield to it, and you win his heart and his gratitude 
forever. Man must never be put into an inferior position to 
his helpmate. Is not that true? Thank you, my child — 
(come, the word is out) — for that pressure of my hand. You 
understand us men. '-Let Henry leave you, sure that his name 
will be mentioned with praise in his commanding officer's re- 
port after some gallant action, looking forward to the day 
when, in command himself. Parliament shall vote him its 
thanks, and its sovereign award him her honors ; and your 
Henry, as you cling in pride to his breast, shall whisper in 
words only heard by you, ' Wife mine, your parents are not 
ashamed of me now ! All this is your work ! all results from 
the yearning desire to show that the man whom you had 
singled out from the world was not unworthy of your love!'" 

"But Henry does not say those pretty things," sighed 
Cla?^, half smiling, half weeping. 

" Say them ? In words, of course not. What man, and es- 
pecially what Englishman, does say pretty things to his wife ? 
It is only authors, who are the interpreters of hearts, that say 
what lovers and heroes feel. But a look says to the beloved 
one more than authors can put into words. Henry's look will 
tell you what you, his own, his wife, have been to him in the 
bivouac, in the battle ; and you will love and reverence him 
the more because he does not say the pretty things into which 
I mince and sentimentalize the calm Englishman's grand, si- 



270 MOTIVE POWER. 

lent, heartfelt combination of love vitli duty and with honor. 
My dear Clara, I speak to you as I would to my own daughter. 
Let your young soldier go. You and I, indeed — the woman 
and the civilian — may talk as we will of distinctions between 
the defense of the island and the preservation of the empire. 
But a soldier is with his country's flag wherever it is placed, 
whether in the wilds of CafFraria or on the clifis of Dover. 
Clara, am I not right? Yes! you again press my hand. 
After all, there is not a noble beat in the heart of man which 
does not vibrate more nobly still in the iieart of the wife who 
loves him !" 

Just at this time our little anchor dropped on a fairy isl- 
and. There was as much bustle on board as if we had dis- 
covered a new Columbia. We landed for a few minutes to 
enjoy a glorious view of the lake, to which this island was the 
centre, and explore a curious cave, which, according to tradi- 
tion, had been the dwelhng of some unsocial anchorite in 
Gothic days. The rocky walls of this cell were now inscribed 
with the names or initials of summer holiday visitors from 
provincial towns. 

" See," said the painter, " how instincflve to man is the de- 
sire to leave some memorial of himself wherever he has been." 

" Do you acknowledge, then," said Ttacey, " that the in- 
stinct which roused Joseph Higgins to caiwe on the rock, for 
the benefit of distant ages, the fact that in the year 1837 he 
visited this spot in company with 'Martha Brown,' is but a 
family branch of the same instinct which makes genius desire 
to write its name on the 'flammantia mania mundi?' " 

"Perhaps," replied the painter, "the instinct is the same; 
but if it be so, that truth would not debase and vulgarize the 
yearning of genius — it would rather elevate and poetize the 
desire of Joseph Higgins," g 

" Well answered," said I. " Has any one present a knife 
that he will not mind blunting? if so, I should like to carve 
my name under that of Joseph Higgins. It is something to 
leave a trace of one's whereabout twenty years hence, even in 
■the rock of this lonely cave." 

Henry produced the knife, and I carved my name imder that 
of Joseph Higgins, with the date, and these words — "A Sum- 
mer Holiday." " I have not had many holidays," said I, " since 
I left school ; let me j^reserve one from oblivion." I passed 
the knife to Tracey. 



MOTIVE POWER. 271 

" ISTay," said lie, langliing," I have no motive strong enough 
to induce me to take the trouble. I have no special holiday to 
record ; my life is all holiday." 

We re-entered our vessel and drifted along the lake, the 
painter jotting down hints of scenery in his sketch-book, and 
Percival reading to us aloud from a volume of Robert Brown- 
ing's Poems which he had brought with him. He was a great 
admirer of that poet, and was bent upon making Clara share 
his own enthusiasm. Certainly he read well, and the poems 
he selected seemed in harmony with the scene ; for there is in 
Robert Browning a certain freshness and freedom of music, 
and a certain suggestiveness of quiet thought reflected from 
natural images, which fit him to be read out of doors, in En- 
glish landscapes, on summer days. 

When we returned from our cruise we found our rural ban- 
quet awaiting us. We were served under an awning susj^end- 
ed from the trunks of two mighty elms, whose branches over- 
hung the water. Lady Gertriy:le had not exaggerated the cul- 
inary skill of the ci-devant housekeeper. What with the fish 
from the lake, various sorts, dressed in diflerent ways, proba- 
bly from receipts as old as the monastic days in which fresh- 
water fishes received the honors due to them — what with some 
excellent poultry, which, kept in that Avild jolace, seemed to 
have acqu.ired a finer flavor than farm-yard coops bestow — and 
what with fruits, not rendered malefic by walls of pastry, the 
repast would have satisfied more refined epicures than we 
were. Cool, light, sparkling wines, innocent as those which 
Horace promised to Tyndaris, circled freely. All of us be- 
came mirthful, even Clara — all of us except Henry, who still 
looked as if he were wasting time, and the painter, who be- 
came somewhat too seriously obtrusive of his art, and could 
with difiiculty be kept from merging the whole conversation 
into criticisms on the landscape eflects of Gamsborough con- 
trasted with those of Claude. 

After dinner we quietly settled ourselves to our several 
amusements — Lady Gerti'ude to some notable piece of female 
work. Clara, after playing us a few airs on her lute, possess- 
ed herself of Traccy's volume of Browning, and pretended to 
read. Tlie painter flung himself on the grass, and contem- 
plated Avitli an artist's eye the curves in the bank, and the 
lengthening shadows that crept over the still waters. Henry, 



272 MOTIVE POWER, 

ever restless, wandered away with a rod in his hand toward a 
distant gravelly creek, in which the old man at the lodge as- 
sured us he had seen perch of three pounds' weight. 

The librarian alone remained seated at the table, finishing 
very slowly his bottle of claret, and apparently preparing him- 
self for a peaceful slumber. 

Tracey and I strolled along the margin of the lake, the swans 
following us as we walked : they were old friends of his. 

" So," said Tracey at last, " you think that my course of life 
has not been a wise one." 

" If all men lived like you, it might be very well for a para- 
dise, but very bad for the world we dwell in." 

" Possibly ; but it would be very bad for the world we dwell 
in if the restless spirits were not in some degree kept in check 
by the calm ones. What a miserable, imsafe, revolutionary 
state of society would be that in which all the members were 
men of combative ambition and fidgety genius ; all haranguing, 
fighting, scribbling ; all striving, each against the other ! We 
sober fellows are the ballast in the state vessel : without us, it 
would upset in the first squall ! We have our uses, my friend, 
little as you seem disposed to own it." 

" My dear Tracey, the question is not whether a ship should 
carry ballast, but whether you are of the proj)er material for 
ballast. And when I wonder why a man of great intellect and 
knowledge should not make his intellect and knowledge more 
largely useful, it is a poor answer to tell me that he is as use- 
ful as — a bag of stones." 

" A motive power is as necessary to impel a man, whatever 
his intellect or knowledge, toward ambitious action, as it is to 
lift a stone from the hold of a vessel into the arch of a palace. 
ISTo motive power from without urges me into action, and the 
property inherent in me is to keep still." 

" Well, it is true, yours is so exceiHional a lot that it affords 
no ground for practical speculation on human life. Take a pa- 
trician of £60,000 a year, who only spends £6000 ; give him 
tastes so cultivated that he has in himself all resources ; diet 
him on philosophy till he says, with the Greek sage, ' Man is 
made to contemplate, and to gaze on the stars,' and it seems an 
infantine credulity to expect that this elegant Looker-on will 
condescend to take part with the actors on the world's stage. 
Yet without the actors, the world would be only a drop-scene 



MOTIVE POWEK. 273 

for tbe Lookers-on. Yours, I repeat, is an exceptional case, 
and those who admire your mind must regret that it has been 
robbed of fame by your fortune." 

" Flatterer," said Tracey, with his imperturbable good tem- 
per, " I am ashamed of myself to know that you have not hit 
on the truth. If I had been born to £200 a year, and single 
as I am now — that is, free to choose my own mode of life — I 
should have been, I was about to say, as idle as I am ; but idle 
is not the word ; I should have been as busy in completing my 
own mind, and as reluctant to force that mind into the squab- 
bles of that mob which you call the world; in fact, I am but 
a type — somewhat exaggerated by accidental circumstances, 
which make me more prominent than others to your friendly 
if critical eye — of a very common and a very numerous class 
in a civilization so cultivated as that of our age. Wherever 
you look, you will find men whom the world has never heard 
of, yet who in intellect or knowledge could match themselves 
against those whose names are in all the newspapers. Allow 
me to ask. Do you not know, in the House of Commons, men 
Avho never open their lips, but for whose mere intellect, in judg- 
ment, penetration, genuine statesmanship, you have more re- 
spect than you have for that of the leading orators ? Allow 
me to ask again. Should you say the profoundest minds and the 
most comprehensive scholars are to be found among the most 
popular authors of your time, or among men who have never 
published a line, and never will? Answer me frankly." 

" I will answer you frankly. I should say that, in political 
judgment and knowledge, there are many men in the back 
benches of Parliament who are the most admirable critics of 
the leading statesmen. I should say that, in many educated, 
fastidious gentlemen, there are men who, in exquisite taste and 
extensive knowledge, are the most admirable critics of the 
popular authors. But still there is an immense difference in 
human value between even a first-rate critic who does not pub- 
lish his criticisms, and even a second or third-rate statesman 
or author who does contribute his quota of thought to the in- 
tellectual riches of the world," 

" Granted ; but the distinction between man and man, in re- 
lation to the pubHc, is not mere intellect nor mere knowledge ; 
it is in something else. What is it ?" 

"Dr. Arnold, the schoolmaster, said, that as between boy 

M2 



274 MOTIVE POWEPw 

and boy the distinction Avas energy, perhaps it is so with 
men." 

"Energy! yes ; but what puts the energy into movement? 
what makes one man dash into fame by a harum-scarum book 
full of blunders and blemishes, or a random fiery sj^eech, of . 
Avhich any sound thinker would be heartily ashamed ; and 
what keejjs back the man who could write a much better book 
and make a much better speech ?" 

" Perhaps," said I, ironically, " that extreme of elegant van- 
ity, an overfastidious taste ; perhaps that extreme of j^hilo- 
sophical do-nothiugness which always contemplates and never 
acts." 

"Possibly you are right," answered Tracey, shaming my 
irony by his urbane candor. " But why has the man this ex- 
treme of elegant vanity or philosophical do-nothingness ? Is 
it not, perhaps, after all, a physical defect — the lymphatic tem- 
perament instead of the nervous-bilious ?" 

" You are not lymphatic," said I, Avith interest ; for my hob- 
by is metaphysical pathology, or pathological metaphysics. 
" You," said I, " are not lymphatic ; you are dark-haii'ed, lean, 
and sinewy; AA'hy the deuce should you not be energetic? It 
must be that infamous £60,000 a year which has paralyzed all 
your motive power." 

"Friend," ansAvered Tracey, "are there not some men in 
the House of Lords Avith more than £60,000 a year, and Avho 
could scarcely be more energetic if they lived on 4d. a day and 
worked for it ?" 

"There have been, and are, such instances in the peerage, 
doubtless ; but, as a general rule, the wealthiest peers are sel- 
dom the most active. Still,! am willing to give your implied 
argument the full benefit of the illustration you cite. Wher- 
ever legislative functions are attached to hereditary aristocra- 
cy, that aristocracy, as long as the state to which they belong 
is free, will never fail of mental vigor — of ambition for reputa- 
tion and honors achieved in the public service. It was so Avith 
the senators of Rome as long as the Roman republic lasted; 
it will be so with the members of the House of Lords as long- 
as the English Constitution exists. And in such an order of 
men there will always be a degree of motive power suflicient- 
ly counteracting the indolence and epicurism Avhich great 
wealth in itself engenders, to j^lace a very large numerical 



MOTIVE POWEK. 275 

proportion of the body among the most active and aspiring, 
spirits of the time. But your misfortune, my dear Tracey, has 
been this (and hence I call your case exceptional) — that, im- 
measurably above the average of our peers, both as regards 
illustrious descent and territorial possessions, still you have 
had none of the duties, none of the motive power which actu- 
ate hereditary legislators. You have had their wealth — you 
have had their temptations to idleness ; you have not had their 
responsible duties — you have not had their motives for energy 
and toil. That is why I call your case exceptional." 

" Still," answered Tracey, " I say that I am but a very com- 
monplace type of educated men who belong neither to the 
House of Lords nor the House of Commons, and who, in this 
country, despise ambition, yet in some mysterious latent way 
serve to influence opinion. Motive power — motive power! 
how is it formed ? why is it so capricious ? why sometimes 
strongest iu the rich and weakest in the poor? why does 
knowledge sometimes impart and sometimes destroy it ? On 
these questions I do not think that your reasonings will satis- 
fy me. I am sure that mine would not satisfy you. Let us 
call in a third party, and hear what he has to say on the mat- 
ter. Ride with me to-morrow to the house of a gifted friend 
of mine, who was all for public life once, and is all for private 
life now. I will tell you who and what he is. In early life 
my friend carried off the most envied honors of a university. 
Almost immediately on taking his degree he obtained his fel- 
lowship. Thus he became an independent man. The career 
most suited to his prospects was that of the Church. To this 
he had a conscientious objection; not that he objected to the 
doctrines of our Church, nor that he felt in himself any con- 
sciousness of sinful propensities at variance with the profes- 
sion, but simply because he did not feel that strong impulse 
toward the holiest of earthly vocations, without which a very 
clever man may be a very indifferent parson ; and his ambition 
led him toward political distinction. His rejDutation for tal- 
ents, and for talents adapted to public life, was so high, that 
he received an ofier to be brought into Parliament, at the first 
general election, from a man of great station, with whose son 
he had been intimate at college, and who possessed a predom- 
inant influence in a certain borough. The offer was accejDted ; 
but, before it could be carried out, a critical change occurred 



270 MOTIVE POWEB. 

in my friend's life and in his temper of mind. He came sud- 
denly and unexj)ectedly into the succession to a small estate 
in this county, which had belonged for several generations to 
a distant branch of his family. On taking ^Dossession of the 
property, he naturally made acquaintance with the rector of 
tiie 23arish, and formed a sudden and passionate attachment for 
one of the rector's daughters, resigned the fellowship he no 
longer needed, married the young lady, and found himself so 
happy with his young partner and in his new home, that, be- 
fore the general election took place, the idea of the parliament- 
ary life which he had before coveted became intolerable to 
him. He excused himself to the borough and its patron, and 
has ever since lived as quietly in his rural village as if he had 
never known the joys of academical triumph, nor nursed the 
hope of political renown. Let us then go and see him to-mor- 
row (it is a very pretty ride across the country), and you will 
be compelled to acknowledge that his £600 or £700 a year of 
wood and sheep-walk, with peace and love at his fireside, have 
sufficed to stifle ambition in one whose youth had been intense- 
ly ambitious. So you see it does not need £60,000 a year to 
make a man cling to private life, and shrink from all that, in 
shackling him with the fetters and agitating him with the pas- 
sion of public life, would lessen his personal freedom and mar 
his intellectual serenity." 

"I shall be glad to see your friend. What is his name ?" 

"Hastings Gray." 

" What ! the Hastings Gray who, seventeen or eighteen 
years ago, made so remarkable a speech at some public meet- 
ing (I own I forget where it was), and wrote the political 
pamphlet Avhich caused so great a sensation !" 

" The same man." 

"I remember that he was said to have distinguished himself 
highly at the university, and that he was much talked of in 
London, for a few weeks, as a man likely to come into Parlia- 
ment, and even to make a figure in it. Since then, never hav- 
ing heard more of him, I supposed he was dead. I am glad 
to learn that he only sleepeth." 

Here we heard behind us the muflled fall of hoofs on the 
sward ; our party was in movement homeward, Lady Gertrude 
leading the van in her pony chaise. I had to retake my place 
by her side ; Clara and the libi-arian followed in a similar vehi- 



MOTIVE POWEE. 277 

cle, driven by Henry Thornliill, who had caught none of the 
great perches ; I suspect he had not tried for them. Percival 
and the painter rode. The twihght deepened, and soon melt- 
ed into a starry night as we went through the shadowy forest- 
Laud. 

Lady Gertrude talked incessantly and agreeably, but I was 
a very dull companion, and, being in a musing humor, wovild 
much rather have been alone. At length we saw the moon 
shining on the white walls of the villa. " I fear we haved tired 
you with our childish party of pleasure," said Lady Gertrude, 
with a malicious iling at my silence. 

" Perhaps I am tired," I replied, ingenuously. " PleasuiHB 
are fatiguing, especially when one is not accustomed to them." 

" Satirist !" said Lady Gertrude. " You come from the bril- 
liant excitements of London, and what may be pleasure to us 
must be emvui to you." 

"Nay, Lady Gertrude, let me tell you what a very clever 
and learned man, a minister of state, said the other day at one 
of those great public ceremonial receptions which are the cus- 
tomary holidays of a minister of state. ' Life,' said he, pen- 
sively, ' would be tolerably agreeable if it were not for its 
amusements.' He spoke of those 'brilliant excitements,' as 
you call them, which form the amusements of capitals. He 
would not have spoken so of the delight which Man can ex- 
tract from a holiday with ISTature. But tell me, you who have 
played so considerable a part in the world of fashion, do you 
prefer the drawing-rooms of London to the log house by the 
lake?" 

"Why," said Lady Gertrude, honestly, and with a half sigh, 
"I own I should be glad if Percival would consent to spend 
six months in the year, or even three, in London. However, 
what he likes I like. Providence has made us women of very 
pliable materials." 

" Has it?" said I; "that information is new to me : one lives 
to learn." And here, as the pony stopped at the porch, I de- 
scended to offer my arm to the amiable charioteer. 

Nothing worth recording took place the rest of the evening. 
Henry and the painter played at billiards, Lady Gertrude and 
the librarian at backgammon. Clara went into the billiard- 
room, seating herself there with her work: by some fond in- 
stinct of her loving nature, she felt as if she ought not to waste 



278 MOTIVE POWEB. 

the minutes yet vouchsafed to her — she was still with him who 
was all in all to her ! 

I took down the "Faithful Shepherdess," wishing to refresh 
my memory of passages which the scenes we had visited that 
day vaguely recalled to my mind. Looking over my shoulder, 
Percival guided me to the lines I was hunting after. This led 
to comparisons between " The Faithful Shepherdess" and the 
" Comus," and thence to that startling contrast in the way of 
viewing, and in the mode of describing, rural nature, between 
the earlier English poets and those whom Dryden formed upon 
Gallic models, and so on into the pleasant clewless labjainth 
^metaphysical criticism on the art of poetic genius. When 
we had parted for the night and I regained my own room, I 
opened my window and looked forth on the moonlit gardens. 
A few minutes later, a shadow, moving slow, passed over the 
silvered ground, and, descending the terrace stairs, vanished 
among the breathless shrubs and slumbering flowers. I rec- 
ognized the man who loved to make night his companion. 

The next day the atmosphere was much cooler, refreshed 
by a heavy shower that had fallen at dawn ; and when, nt)t 
long after noon, Percival and I, mounted on ponies bred in the 
neighboring forests, were riding through the narrow lanes to- 
ward the house we had agreed to visit, we did not feel the 
heat oppressive. It was a long excursion ; we rode slowly, 
and the distance was about sixteen miles. 

We arrived at last' at a little hamlet remote from the high 
roads. The cottages, though old-fashioned, were singularly 
neat and trim — flower-plots before them, and small gardens for 
kitchen use behind. A very ancient church, with its parson- 
age, backed the broad village green, and opposite the green 
stood one of those small quaint manor-houses which satisfied 
the pride of our squires two hundred years ago. On a wide 
garden-lawn in front were old yew-trees cut into fantastic fig- 
ures of pyramids, and obelisks, and birds, and animals ; beyond 
the lawn, on a leveled platform immediately before the house, 
was a small garden, with a sun-dial, and a summer-house or 
pavilion of the date of William III., when buildings of that 
kind, for a short time, became the fashionable appendage to 
country houses, frequently decorated inside with musical tro- 
phies, as if built for a music-room, but, I suspect, more gener- 
ally devoted to wine and pipes by the host and his male friends. 



MOTIVE POWER. 2*79 

At the rear of the house stretched an ample range of farm- 
biiildings in very good repair and order, the Avhole situated on 
the side of a hill sufficiently high to command an extensive 
prospect, bounded at the farthest distance by the sea, yet not 
so high as to lose the screen of hills, crested by young planta- 
tions of fir and larch, while the midmost slopes were in part 
still abandoned to sheep-walks, in part brought (evidently of 
late) into cultivation ; and farther down, amid the richer pas- 
tures that dipped into the valley, goodly herds of cattle indo- 
lently grazed or drowsily reposed. 

We dismounted at the white garden gate. A man ran out 
from the farm-yard and took our ponies — evidently a familiar 
acquaintance of Tracey's, for he said heartily " that he was glad 
to see his honor looking so well," and volunteered a jDromise 
that the ponies should be well rubbed down and fed. " Mas- 
ter was at home ; we should find him in the orchard swinging 
Miss Lucy." 

So, instead of entering the house, Tracey, who knew all its 
ways, took me round to the other side, and we came into one 
of those venerable orchards which carry the thought back to 
the early day when the orchard was, in truth, the garden. 

A child's musical laugh guided us through the lines of heavy- 
laden apple-trees to the spot where the once famous prizeman 
— the once brilliant political thinker — was now content to grat- 
ify the instinctive desire tentare aerias vias in the jDastime of 
an infant. 

He was so absorbed in his occupation that he did not hear 
or observe us till w^e were close at his side. Then, after care- 
fully arresting the swing, and tenderly taking out thelittle girl, 
he shook hands with Percival ; and when the ceremony of 
mutual introduction was briefly concluded, extended the same 
courtesy to myself. 

Gray was a man in the full force of middle life, with a com- 
plexion that seemed to have been originally fair and delicate, 
but had become bronzed and hardened by habitual exposure 
to morning breezes and noonday suns. He had a clear, bright 
blue eye, and a countenance that only failed of being handsome 
by that length and straightness of line between nostril and 
upper lip, Avhich is said by physiognomists to be significant of 
firmness and decision. The whole expression of his face, though 
frank and manly, was, however, rather sweet than harsh ; and 



280 MOTIVE POWER. 

he had one of those rare voices which ahnost in themselves se- 
cure success to a pubhc speaker — distinct and clear, even in its 
lowest tone, as a silvery bell. 

I think much of a man's nature is shown by the way in which 
he shakes hands. I doubt if any worldly student of Chester- 
fieldian manners can ever acquire the art of that every-day 
sahitation, if it be not inborn in the kindness, loyalty, and 
warmth of his native disposition. I have known many a great 
man who lays himself out to be popular, who can school his 
smile to fascinating sweetness, his voice to persuasive melody, 
but who chills or steels your heart against him the moment he 
shakes hands with you. 

But there is a cordial clasp which shows warmth of impulse, 
unhesitating truth, and even power of character — a clasp which 
recalls the classic trust in the " faith of the right hand." 

And the clasp of Hastings Gray's hand at once propitiated 
me in his favor. While he and I exchanged the few words 
with which acquaintance commences, Percival had replaced 
Miss Lucy in the swing, and had taken the father's post. Lucy, 
before disappointed at the cessation of her amusement, felt now 
that she was receiving a compliment, which she must not abuse 
too far ; so she very soon, of her OAvn accord, unselfishly asked 
to be let down, and we all walked back toward the house. 

"You will dine Avith us, I hope," said Gray. " I know, when 
you come at this houi', Sir Percival, that you always meditate 
giving us that pleasure." (Turning to me), " It is now half 
past three ; we dine at four o'clock, and that early hour gives 
you time to rest, and ride back in the cool of the evening." 

"My dear Gray," answered Percival, "I accept your invi- 
tation for myself and my friend. I foresaw you would ask us, 
and left word at home that we were not to be waited for. 
Where is Mrs. Gray?" 

"I suspect that she is about some of those household mat- 
ters which interest a farmer's wife. Lucy, run and tell your 
mamma that these gentlemen will dine with us." 

Liicy scampered oif. 

" The fact is," said Tracey, " that Ave have a problem to sub- 
mit to you. You know hoAv frequently I come to you for a 
hint when something puzzles me. But we can defer that knotty 
subject till we adjourn, as xisual, to wine and fruit in your sum- 
mer-house. Your eldest boy is at home for the holidays?" 



MOTIVE POWER. 281 

" Not at home, though it is his hohclays. He is now fifteen, 
and he and a school friend of his are travehng on foot into 
Cornwall. Nothing, I think, fits boys better for life than those 
hardy excursions on which they must depend on themselves, 
shift for themselves, think for themselves." 

"I dare say you are right," said Tracey ; "the earlier each 
of us human beings forms himself into an individual God's 
creature, distinct from the Servian 2)eci(S, the better chance he 
has of acquiring originality of mind and dignity of character. 
And your other children?" 

" Oh, my two younger boys I teach at home, and one little 
girl — I play with." Here, addressing me. Gray asked " if I 
farmed." 

" Yes," said I, " but very much as les Hois Faineants reign- 
ed. My bailiff is my Maire dit Palais. I hope, therefore, 
that our friend Sir Percival will not wound my feelings as a 
lover of Nature by accusing me of wooing her for the sake of 
her turnips." 

"Ah!" said Gray, smiling, "Sir Percival, I know, holds to 
the doctrine that the only pure love of Nature is the aesthetic, 
and looks upon the intimate connection which the husbandman 
forms with her as a cold-blooded marlage de convenanceP 

" I confess," answered Percival, " that I agree with the great 
German philosopher, that the love of Nature is pure in propor- 
tion as the delight in her comj)anionship is unmixed with any 
idea of the gain she can give us. But a pure love may be a 
very sterile affection, and a 'mariage de convenance may be 
l^rolific in very fine offspring. I concede to you, therefore, that 
the world is bettered by the practical uses to which Nature 
has been put by those who wooed her for the sake of her 
dower ; and I no more commend to the imitation of others my 
abstract sesthetic affection for h-er abstract aesthetic beauty, 
than I would commend Petrarch's poetical passion for Laura 
to the general adoption of lovers. I give you, then, gentlemen 
farmers, full permission to woo Nature for the sake of her tur- 
nips. Our mutton is all the better for it." 

" And that is no small consideration," said Gray. " If I had 
gazedf on my sheep-walks with the divine aesthetic eye, and 
without one forethought of the profit they might bring me, I 
should not already have converted 200 out of the 1000 acres 
I possess into land that would let at 30s. i)er acre where for- 



282 MOTIVE POWER. 

merly it let at 5s. But, Avith all submission to the great Ger- 
man philosopher, I don't think I love Nature the less because 
of the benefits with which she repays the pains I have taken 
to conciliate her favor. If, thanks to her, I can give a better 
education to my boys, and secure a modest provision for my 
girl, is it the property of gratitude to destroy or to increase 
affection ? But you see, sir, there is this difference between 
Sir Percival and myself: he has had no motive in improving 
Nature for her positive uses, and therefore he has been con- 
tented with giving her a prettier robe. He loves her as a 
grand seigneur loves his mistress. I love her as a man loves 
the helpmate who assists his toils. According as in rural life 
my mind could find, not repose, but occupation — according as 
that occupation was comjDatible with such jorudent regard to 
fortune as a man owes to the children he brings into the world, 
my choice of life would be a right or a wrong one. In short, 
I find in the cultivation of Nature my business as well as my 
pleasure. I have a motive for the business which does not 
diminish my taste for the pleasure." 

Tracey and I exchanged looks. So, then, here was a motive 
for activity. But why was the motive toward activity in jour- 
suits requiring so little of the intellect for which Gray had 
been characterized, and so little of the knowledge which his 
youth had acquired, so much stronger than the motive toward 
a career which proflered an incalculably larger scope for his 
powers? Here there was no want of energy — here there had 
been no philosophical disdain of ambition — here no great 
wealth leaving no stimulant to desires — no niggard poverty 
paralyzing the sinews of hope. The choice of retirement had 
been made in the full vigor of a life trained from boyhood to 
the exercises that discipline the wrestlers for renown. 

While I was thus musing, Gray led the way toward the 
farm-yard, and, on reaching it, said to me, 

" Since you do farm, if only by deputy, I must show you the 
sheep with which I hope to win the first prize at our agricul- 
tural show in September." 

" So you still care for prizes ?" said I : " the love of fame is 
not dead within your breast." \ 

"Certainly not; 'Pride attends us still.' I am very proud 
of the prizes I have already won — last 3'ear for my Avurzel; the 
year before, for the cow I bred on my own pastures." 



MOTIVE POWER. 283 

We crossed the fiivm-yard and arrived at the covered sheep- 
pens. I thought I had never seen finer sheep than those 
which Gray showed me with visible triumph. Then we two 
conversed with much animation upon the pros and cons in 
favor of stall-feeding versus free grazing, while Tracey amused 
himself, first, in trying to conciliate a great dog, luckily for 
him chained up in the adjoining yard, and, next, in favoring 
the escape of a mouse, who had incautiously quitted the barn, 
and ventured within reach of a motherly hen, Avho seemed to 
regard it as a monster intent on her chicks. 

Reaching the house. Gray conducted us up a flight of oak 
stairs — picturesque in its homely old-fashioned way — with 
wide landing-place, adorned by a blue china jar, filled with 
pot-jyourri, and by a tall clock (one of Tompion's, now rare), in 
walnut-wood case, consigning us each to a separate chamber, 
to refresh ourselves by those simple ablutions with which, 
even in rustic retirements, civilized Englishmen preface the 
hospitable rites of Ceres and Bacchus. 

The room in which I found myself was one of those never 
seen out of England, and only there in unpretending country 
houses which have escaped the innovating tastes of fashion. 
A bedstead of the time of George I., Avith mahogany fluted 
columns and panels at the bedhead, dark and polished, deco- 
rated by huge watch-pockets of some great-grandmother's em- 
broidery, white spotless curtains, the walls in panel, and cov- 
ered in part with framed engravings a century old ; a large 
high screen, separating the wash-stand from the rest of the 
room, made lively by old caricatures and prints, doubtless the 
handiwork of female hands long stilled. A sweet, not strong 
odor of dried lavender escaped from a chest of drawers pol- 
ished as bright as the bedstead. The small lattice-paned win- 
dow opened to the fresh air, the woodbine framing it all round 
from without — among the woodbine the low hum of bees. A 
room for early sleep and cheerful rising -with the eastern sun, 
which the window faced. 

Tracey came into my room while I Avas still looking out of 
the casement, gazing on the little garden-plot without, bright 
with stocks, and pinks, and heartsease, and said, "Well, you 
see £'600 a year can suftice to arrest a clever man's ambition." 

"I suspect," answered I, "that the ambition is not arrested, 
but turned aside to the object of doubling the £600 a year. 



284 MOTIVE POWElt. 

Neither ambition nor the desire of gain is dead in that farm- 
yard," 

" We shall cross-questio^ our host after dinner," answered 
Tracey ; " meanwhile, let me conduct you to the dining-room. 
A pretty place this, in its way, is it not?" 

" Very," said I, with enthusiasm. " Could you not live as 
liappily here as in your own brilliant villa?" 

" No, not quite, but still happily." 

" Why not quite ?" 

"First, because there is nothing within or without the house 
which one could attempt to improve, unless by destroying the 
whole character of what is so good in its way ; secondly, 
where could I put my Claudes and Turners ? where my stat- 
i;es ? where, oh where, my books ? Avhere, in short, the furni- 
ture of Man's mind?" 

I made no answer, for the dinner-bell rang loud, and we 
went down at once into the dining-room — a quaint room, 
scarcely touched since the date of William III. : a high and 
heavy dado of dark oak, the rest of the walls in Dutch stamped 
leather, still bright and fresh ; a high mantle-piece, also of oak, 
with a very indifferent picture of still life let into the upper 
panel; arched recesses on either side, receptacles for china and 
tall drinking-glasses ; heavy chairs, with crests inlaid on their 
ponderous backs, and faded needlework on their ample seats 
— all, however, speaking of comfort and home, and solid though 
unassuming prosperity. Gray had changed his rude morning- 
dress, and introduced me to his wife with an evident husband- 
like pride. Mrs. Gray was still very pretty ; in her youth she 
must have been prettier even than Clara Thornhill, and, though 
very plainly dressed, still it was the dress of a gentlcAvoman. 
There was intelligence, but soft, timid intelligence., in her dark 
hazel eyes and broad candid forehead. I soon saw, however, 
that she Avas painfully shy, and not at all willing to take her 
share in the expense of conversation. But with Tracey she 
was more at her ease than with a stranger, and I thanked him 
inwardly for coming to my relief as I was vainly endeavoring 
to extract from her lips more than a murmured monosyllable. 

The dinner, however, passed off very pleasantly. Simple 
old English fare — plenty of it — excellent of its kind. Tracey 
was the chief talker, and made himself so entertaining, that at 
last even Mrs. Gray's shyness wore away, and I discovered 



MOTIVE POWER. 285 

that she had a well-informed, graceful muid, constitutionally 
cheerful, as was evidenced by the blithe music of her low but 
happy laugh. 

The dinner over, we adjourned, as Percival had proposed, 
to the summer-house. There we found the table spread with 
fruits and wine, of which last the port was superb ; no better 
could be dragged from the bins of a college, or blush on the 
board of a prelate. Mrs. Gray, however, deserted us, but we 
now and then caught sight of her in the garden without, play- 
ing gayly with her children — two fine little boys, and Lucy, 
who seemed to have her own way Avith them all, as she ought 
— the youngest child, the only girl— justifiably papa's pet, for 
she was the child most like her mother. 

" Gray," said Tracey, " my friend and I have had some 
philosophical disputes, which we can not decide to our own 
satisfaction, on the reasons why some men do so much more 
in life than other men, Avithout having any apparent intellectual 
advantage over those wdio are contented to be obscure. "SYe 
Lave both hit on a clew to the cause in what we call motive 
poAver. But what this motive power really is, and Avhy it 
should fail in some men and be so strong in others, is matter 
of perplexit}^, at least to me, and I fancy my friend himself is 
not much more enlightened therein than I am. So Ave have 
both come here to hear what you have to say — you, who cer- 
tainly had motive enough for ambitious purposes when you 
swept away so many academical prizes — Avhen you rushed 
into speech and into print, and cast your bold eye on St. Ste- 
phen's. And now, what has become of that motive poAver ? 
Is- it all put into prizes for root-crops and sheep?" 

"As to myself," answered Gray, passing the wine, "I can 
give very clear explanations. I am of a gentleman's family, 
but the soif of a very poor curate. Luckily for me, Ave lived 
close by an excellent grammar-school, at Avhich I obtained a 
free admission. From the first day I entered, I kneAV that my 
poor father, bent on making me a scholar, counted on my ex- 
ertions not only for my own livelihood, but for a pro\dsion for 
my mother should she survive him. Here was motive enough 
to supply motive power. I succeeded in competition Avitli 
rivals at school, and success added to the strength of the mo- 
tiA'o poAver. Our county member, on Avhose estate I Avas 
born, took a kindly interest in me, and gave me leave, Avhen I 



286 MOTIVE POWER. 

quitted school as head boy, to come daily to his house and 
share the studies of his son, who was being prepared for the 
university by a private tutor, eminent as a scholar and admi- 
rable as a teacher. Thus I went up to college not only full of 
hope (in itself a motive power, though of itself an unsafe one), 
but of a hope so sustained that it became resolution, by the 
knowledge that to maintain me at the university my parents 
were almost literally starving themselves. This suffices to ex- 
plain whatever energy and application I devoted to my aca- 
demical career. At last I obtained ray fellowship ; the income 
of that I shared with my parents; but, if I died before them, 
the income would die also — a fresh motive power toward a 
struggle for fortune in the Great World. I took up politics, 
I confess it very frankly, as a profession rather than a creed ; 
it was the shortest road to fame, and, with prudence, perhaps 
to jjecuniary competence. If I succeeded in Parliament, I 
miglit obtain a living for my father, or some public situation 
for myself not dependent on the fluctuations of party. A 
very high political ambition was denied me by the penury of 
circumstance. A man must have good means of his own who 
aspires to rank among j^arty chiefs. I knew I was but a polit- 
ical adventurer, that I could only be so considered ; and, had 
it not been for my private motive power, I should have been 
ashamed of my public one. As it was, my scholarly pride 
was secretly chafed at the thought that I was carrying into 
the affairs of state the greed of trade. However, just as I 
was studying 'Hansard's Debates,' and preparing myself for 
Parliament, this estate of Oakden suddenly fell to my lot. 
You large proprietors will smile when I say that we had al- 
ways regarded the Grays of Oakden Hall with venerating 
pride; they Avere the head of our branch of the clan. My fa- 
ther had seen this place in his boyhood ; the rem(?mbrance of 
it dwelt on his mind as the unequivocal witness of his dignity 
as a gentleman born. He came from the same stock as the 
Grays of Oakden, Avho had lived on the land for more than 
three centuries, entitled to call themselves squires. The rela- 
tionship was very distant, still it existed. But a dream that 
so great a place as Oakden Hall, with its thousand acres, 
should ever pass to his son — ^no, my father thought it much 
more likely that his son might be prime minister ! John Gray 
of Oakden had never taken the least notice of us, except that. 



MOTIVE POWEE. 287 

when I won the Pitt scholarship, he sent me a fine turkey, 
labeled 'From John Gray, Esq., of Oakden.' This present I 
acknowledged, but John Gray never answered my letter. 
Just at that time, however, as appears by the date, he remade 
his will, by which the succession to this property was secured 
to me in what must then have seemed the very improbable 
event of the death, without issue, of two nephews, both 
younger men than myself. That event, so improbable, hap- 
pened. The elder nephew died, unmarried, of rheumatic fever, 
a few months before old Gray's decease ; the other two weeks 
after it: poor fellow! he was thrown from his horse, and 
killed on the spot. Thus I came into this property. Soon 
afterward I married. The possession of land is a great tran- 
quillizer to a restless spirit, and a happy marriage is a sedative 
as potent. Poverty is a spur to action. Great wealth, on the 
other hand, not unnaturally tends to the desire of disjjlay, and 
in free countries often to the rivalry for political power. The 
gold^ mean is proverbially the condition most favorable to 
content, and content is the antidote to ambition. Mine was 
the golden mean ! Other influences of pride and affection 
contributed to keep me still. Of pride; for was I not really- 
a greater man here, upon my ancestral acres, and my few 
yearly hundreds, than as a jDolitical aspirant, who must com- 
mence his career by being a political dependent? How rich 
I felt here ! how poor I should be in London ! How inevi- 
tably, in the daily expenses of a metropolitan life, and in the 
costs of elections (should I rise beyond being a mere nominee), 
I must become needy and involved ! So much for the influ- 
ence of pride. Kow for the influence of affection : my dear 
wife had never been out of these rural shades among which 
she was born. She is of a nature singularly timid, sensitive, 
and retiring. The idea of that society to which a political 
career would have led me terrified her. I loved her the better 
for desiring no companionship but mine. In fine, my desires 
halted at once on these tiu'fs; the Attraction of the Earth pre- 
vailed ; the motive power stopped here." 

" Ton have never regretted your choice ?" said Tracey. 

" Certainly not ; I congratulate myself on it more and more 
every year ; for, after all, here I have ample occupation and a 
creditable career. I have improved my fortune instead of 
wasting it. I have a fixed, acknowledged, instead of an unset- 



288 MOTIVE POWEK. 

tied, equivocal position. I am an authority on many rural 
subjects of interest besides those of husbandry. I am an act- 
ive magistrate ; and, as I know a little of the law, I am the ha- 
bitual arbiter upon all the disputes in the neighborhood. I 
employ here Avith satisfaction, and not without some dignity, 
the energies which, in the great world, would have bought any 
reputation I might have gained at the price of habitual pain 
and frequent mortification." 

" Then," said I, " you do not think that a saying of Dr. Ar- 
nold's, which I quoted to Tracey as no less applicable to men 
than to boys, is altogether a true one, viz., that the difference 
between boys, as regards the power of acquiring distinction, 
is not so much in talent as in energy ; you retain the energies 
that once raised you to jDublic distinction, but you no longer 
apply them to the same object." 

" I believe that Dr. Arnold, if he be qiioted correctly, spoke 
only half the truth. One difference between boy and boy, or 
man and man, no doubt, is energy ; but for great achievements 
or lame there must be also application, viz., every enei-gy con- 
centred on one definite point, and disciplined to strain toward 
it by patient habit. My energy, such as it is, would not have 
brought my sheep-walks into profitable cultivation if the ener- 
gy had not been accompanied with devoted application to the 
business; and it is astonishing how, when the energy is con- 
stantly applied toward one settled aim — astonishing, I say, how 
invention is kindled out of it. Thus, in many a quiet, solitary 
morning's walk round ray farm, some new idea, some hint of 
improvement or contrivance occurs to me ; this I ponder and 
meditate upon till it takes the shape of experiment. I presume 
that it is so with poet, artist, orator, or statesman. His mind 
is habituated to apply itself to definite subjects of observation 
and reflection, and out of this habitual musing thereon invol- 
untarily spring the happy originalities of thinking which are 
called his ' inspirations.' " 

" One word more," said I. " Do you consider, then, that 
which makes a man devote himself to fame or ambition is a 
motive power of which he himself is conscious ?" 

"No, not always. I imagine that most men entering on 
some career are originally impelled toward it by a motive 
which, at the time, they seldom take the trouble to analyze or 
even to detect. They would at once see what that motive 



MOTIVE POWEK. 289 

was if, early in the careei*, it were withdrawn. In a majority 
of cases it is the res angusta^ yet not poverty in itself, but a 
povei'ty disproportioned to the birth, or station, or tastes, or in- 
tellectual culture of the aspirant. Thus the peasant or opera- 
tive rarely feels in his poverty a motive power toward worldly 
distinction ; but the younger son of a gentleman does feel that 
motive power ; and hence a very large proportion of those 
who in various Avays have gained fame, have been the cadets 
of a gentleman's family, or the sons of poor clergymen, some- 
times of farmers and tradesmen, who have given them an edu- 
cation beyond the average of their class. Other motive pow- 
ers toward fame have been sometimes in ambition, sometimes 
in love; sometimes in a great sorrow, from which a strong 
mind sought to wrest itself; sometimes even in things that 
would appear frivolous to a philosopher. I knew a young 
man, of no great talents, but of keen vanity, and great resolu- 
tion and force of character, who, as a child, had been impress- 
ed with envy of the red ribbon which his uncle wore as Knight 
of the Bath. From his infancy he determined some day or 
other to win a red ribbon for himself. He did so at last, and 
in trying to do so became famous. 

" In great commercial communities a distinction is given to 
successful trade, so that the motive power of youthful talent 
nourished in such societies is mostly concentred on gain, not 
through avarice, but through the love of approbation or es- 
teem. Thus it is noticeable that our great manufacturing 
towns, where energy and application abound, have not contrib- 
uted their proportionate quota of men distinguished in arts or 
sciences (except the mechanical), or polite letters, or the learn- 
ed professions. In rural districts, on the contrary, the desire 
of gain is not associated with the desire of honor and distinc- 
tion, and therefore, in them, the youth early coveting fame 
strives for it in other channels than those of gain. But, what- 
ever the original motive power, if it has led to a continuous 
habit of the mind, and is not withdi'awn before that habit be- 
comes a second nature, the habit will continue after the mo- 
tive power has either wholly ceased or become very faint, as 
the famous scribbling Spanish cardinal is said, in popular le- 
gends, to have continued to write on after he himself was dead. 
Thus a man who has acquired the obstinate habit of laboring 
for the public originally from an enthusiastic estimate of the 



290 MOTIVE POWER. 

value of public applause, may, later, conceive a great contempt 
for the public, and, in sincere cynicism, become wholly indiffer- 
ent to its praise or its censure, and yet, like Swift, go on, as 
long as the brain can retain faithful impressions and perform 
its normal function, writing for the public he so disdains. 
Thus many a statesman, wearied and worn, satisfied of the hol- 
lowness of political ambition, and no longer enjoying its re- 
wards, sighing for retirement and repose, nevertheless contin- 
ues to wear his harness. Plabit has tyrannized over all his ac- 
tions ; break the habit, and the thread of his life snaps with it. 

" Lastly, however, I am by no means sure that there is not 
in some few natures an inborn irresistible activity, a constitu- 
tional attraction between the one mind and the human species, 
which requires no special, separate motive power from Avithout 
to set it into those movements which perforce lead to fame. 
I mean those men to whom we at once accord the faculty 
which escapes all satisfactory metaphysical definition — Inge- 
NiUM ; viz., the inborn spii'it which we call genius. 

" And in these natures, whatever the motive power that in 
the first instance urged them on, if at any stage, however early, 
that motive power be withdrawn, some other one will speedily 
replace it. Through them Providence mysteriously acts on 
the whole world, and their genius while on earth is one of its 
most visible ministrants. But genius is the exceptional phe- 
nomenon in human nature ; and in examining the ordinary laws 
that influence human minds we have no measurement and no 
scales for portents." 

" There is, how^ever," said Tracey, " one motive power to- 
ward careers of public utility which you have not mentioned, 
but the thought of which often haunts me in rebuke of my 
own inertness — I mean, quite apart from any object of vanity 
or ambition, the sense of our own duty to mankind ; and hence 
the devotion to public uses of Avhatever talents have been 
given to us — not to hide under a bushel." 

"I do not think," answered Gray, "that v/hen a man feels 
he is doing good in his own Avay, he need reproach himself 
that he is not doing good in some other way to which he is 
not urged by special duty, and from Avhich he is repelled by 
constitutional temperament. I do not, for instance, see that 
because you have a very large fortune you are morally obliged 
to keep corresponding establishments, and adopt a mode of 



MOTIVE POWER. 291 

life hostile to your tastes ; you sufficiently discharge the duties 
of wealth if the fair proportion of your income go to objects 
of well-considered benevolence, and purposes not unproductive 
to the community. Nor can I think that I, who possess but a 
very moderate fortune, am morally called upon to strive for 
its increase in the many good speculations which life in a capi- 
tal may oifer to an eager mind, provided always that I do nev- 
ertheless remember that I have children, to whose future pro- 
vision and well-being some modest augmentations of my for- 
tune would be desirable. In improving my land for their 
benefit, I may say also that I add, however trivially, to the 
wealth of the country. Let me hope that the trite saying is 
true, that ' he who makes two blades of corn grow where one 
grew before' is a benefactor to his race. So with mental 
wealth: surely it is permitted to us to invest and expend it 
within that sphere most suited to those idiosyncrasies, the ad- 
herence to which constitutes our moral health. I do not, with 
the philosopher, condemn the man who, irresistibly impelled 
toward the pursuit of honors and power, persuades himself 
that he is toiling for the public good when he is but gratifying 
his personal ambition ; probably he is a better man thus act- 
ing in conformity with his own nature, than he would be if 
placed beyond all temptation in Plato's cave. Xor, on the 
other hand, can I think that a man of the highest faculties and 
the largest attainments, who has arrived at a sincere disdain 
of power or honors, would be a better man if he were tyran- 
nically forced to pursue the objects from which his tempera- 
ment recoils, upon the plea that he was thus promoting the 
public welfare. No doubt, in every city, town, street, and lane, 
there are bustling, officious, restless persons, who thrust them- 
selves into public concerns, with a loud declaration that they 
are animated only by the desire of public good ; they mis- 
take their fidgetiness for philanthropy. Not a bubble com- 
pany can be started but what it is with a pi'Ogramme that its di- 
rect object is the public benefit, and the ten per cent, promised 
to the shareholders is but a secondary consideration. Who 
believes in the sincerity of that announcement? In fine, ac- 
cording both to religion and to philosophy, virtue is the high- 
est end of man's endeavor ; but virtue is wholly independent 
of the popular shout or the lictor's fasces. Virtue is the same, 
whether with or without the laurel crown or the curule chair. 



292 MOTIVE POWER. 

Honors do not sully it, but obscurity does not degrade. He 
who is truthful, just, merciful, and kindly, does his duty to his 
race, and fulfills his great end in creation, no matter whether 
the rays of his life are not visibly beheld beyond the walls of 
his household, or whether they strike the ends of the earth ; 
for every human soul is a world complete and integral, storing 
its own ultimate uses and destinies within itself; viewed only 
for a brief while, in its rising on the gaze of earth ; pressing 
onward in its orbit amid the infinite, when, snatched from our 
eyes, we say, ' It has passed away !' And as every star, how- 
ever small it seem to us from the distance at which it shines, 
contributes to the health of our atmosphere, so every soul, 
pure and bright in itself, however far from our dwelling, how- 
ever unremarked by our vision, contributes to the well-being 
of the social system in which it moves, and, in its privacy, is 
part and parcel of the public weal." 

Shading my face with my hand, I remained some moments 
musing after Gray's voice had ceased. Then looking up, I saw 
so pleased and grateful a smile upon Percival Tracey's coun- 
tenance, that I checked the reply by which I had intended to 
submit a view of the subject in discussion somewhat diiFerent 
from that which Gray had taken from the Portico of the Stoics. 
Why should I attempt to mar whatever satisfaction Percival's 
reason or conscience had found in our host's argument ? His 
tree of life was too firmly set for the bias of its stem to swerve 
in any new direction toward light and air. Let it continue 
to rejoice in such light and such air as was vouchsafed to the 
site on which it had taken root. Evening, too, now drew in, 
and we had a long ride before us. A little while after, we 
had bid adieu to Oakden Hall, and were once more threading 
our way through the green and solitary lanes. 

We conversed but little for the first five or six miles. I was 
revolving what I had heard, and considering how each man's 
reasoning moulds itself into excuse or applause for the course 
of life which he adopts. Percival's mind was employed in oth- 
er thoughts, as became clear when he thus spoke : 

"Do you think, my dear friend, that you could spare me a 
week or two longer ? It would be a chai'ity to me if you 
could, for I expect, after to-morrow, to lose my young artist, 
and, alas! also the Thornhills." 

" How ! The Thornhills ? So soon !" 



MOTIVE POWER. 293 

" I cov;nt on receiving to-morrow the formal announcement 
of Henry's pi'omotion and exchange into the regiment he so 
desires to enter, with the orders to join it abroad at once. 
Clara, I know, will not stay here ; she will be with her hus- 
band till he sails, and after his departure will take her abode 
with his widowed mother. I shall miss them much. But 
Thornhill feels that he is wasting his life here ; and so — well, 
I have acted for the best. With respect to the artist, this 

morning I received a letter from my old friend Lord . 

He is going into Italy next week. He Avishes for some views 
of Italian scenery for a villa he has lately bought, and will 
take Bourke with him on my recommendation, leaving him ul- 
timately at Rome. Lord 's friendshij) and countenance 

will be of immense advantage to the young painter, and obtain 
him many orders. I have to break it to Bourke this evening, 
and he Avill, no doubt, quit me to-morrow to take leave of his 
family. For myself, as I always feel somewhat melancholy in 
remaining on the same spot after friends depart from it, I pro- 
pose going to Bellevue, where I have a small yacht. It is glo- 
rious weather for sea excursions. Come with me, my dear 
friend. The fresh breezes will do you good ; and we shall 
have leisure to talk on all the subjects which both of us love 
to explore and guess at." 

No proposition could be more alluring to me. My recent 
intercourse with Tracey had renewed all the affection and in- 
terest with which he had inspired my youth. My health and 
spirits had been already sensibly improved by my brief holi- 
day, and an excursion at sea had been the special advice of my 
medical attendant. I hesitated a moment. Nothing called 
me back to London except public business, and in that I fore- 
saw but the bare chance of a motion in Parliament which stood 
on the papers for the next day ; but my letters had assured me 
that this motion was generally expected to be withdrawn or 
postponed. 

So I accepted the invitation gladly, provided nothing un- 
foreseen should interfere with it. 

Pleased by my cordial assent, Tracey's talk now flowed forth 
with genial animation. He described his villa overhanging the 
sea, with its covered walks to the solitary beach — the many 
objects of interest and landscapes of picturesque beauty with- 
in reach of easy rides on days in which the yacht might not 



294 MOTIVE rOWEK. 

tempt us. I listened with the delight of a school-boy, to whom 
some good-natured kinsman paints the luxuries of a home at 
which he invites the school-boy to spend the vacation. 

By little and little, our conversation glided back to our 
young past, and thence to those dreams, nourished ever by the 
young — love and romance, and home brightened by warmer 
beams than glow in the smile of sober friendship. How the 
talk took this direction I know not ; perhaps by unconscious 
association, as the moon rose above the forest hills with the 
love-star by her side. And, thus conversing, Tracey for the 
first time alluded to that single passion which had vexed the 
smooth river of his life, and Avhich, thanks to Lady Gertrude, 
was already, though vaguely, known to me. 

" It was," said he, "just such a summer's night as this, and, 
though in a foreign country, amid scenes of which these wood- 
land hills remind me, that the world seemed to me to have 
changed into a Fairyland; and, looking into my heart, I said 
to myself, ' This, then, is — love.' And a little while after, on 
such a night, and under such a moon, and amid such hills and 
groves, the world seemed blighted into a desert — life to be ev- 
ermore without hojoe or object; and, looking again into my 
heart, I said, ' This, then, is love denied !' " 

" Alas !" answered I, " there are few men in whose lives 
there is not some secret memoir of an affection thwarted, but 
rarely indeed does an affection thwarted leave a permanent in- 
fluence on the after-destinies of a man's life. On that question 
I meditate an essay, which, if ever printed, I will send to you." 

I said this, wishing to draw him on, and expecting him to 
contradict my assertion as to the enduring influence of a dis- 
appointed love. He mused a moment or so in silence, and 
then said, " Well, perhaps so ; an unhappy love may not per- 
manently affect our after - destinies, still it colors our after- 
thoughts. It is strange that throughout my long and various 
existence I should have seen only one woman whom I could 
have wooed as my wife — one woman in whose presence I felt 
as if I were born for her and she for me." 

" May I ask you what was her peculiar charm in your eyes ; 
or, if you permit me to ask, can you exjilain it ?" 

" No doubt," answered Tracey, " much must be ascribed to 
the character of her beauty, which realized the type I had form- 
ed to myself from boyhood of womanly loveliness in form and 



MOTIVE POWER. 295 

face, and much also to a mind with which a man, however cul- 
tivated, could hold equal commune. But to me her predomi- 
nating attraction was in a simple, unassuming nobleness of sen- 
timent — a truthful, loyal, devoted, self-sacrificing nature. In 
her society I felt myself purified, exalted, as if in the presence 
of an angel. But enough of this. I am resigned to my loss, 
and have long since hung my votive tablet in the shrine of 
' Time the Consoler.' " 

" Forgive me if I am intrusive ; but did she know that you 
loved her ?" 

"I can not say; probably most women discover if they are 
loved ; but I rejoice to think that I never told her so." 

" Would she have rejected you if you had ?" 

" Yes, unhesitatingly ; her word was plighted to another. 
And though she would not, for the man to whom she had be- 
trothed herself, have left her father alone in poverty and exile, 
she would never have married any one else." 

" You believe, then, that she loved your rival with a heart 
that could not change ?" 

Tracey did not immediately reply. At last he said, " I be- 
lieve this — that when scarcely out of girlhood, she considered 
herself engaged to be one man's Avife or forever single ; and if, 
in the course of time and in length of absence, she could have 
detected in her heart the growth of a single thought unfaith- 
ful to her troth, she would have plucked it forth and cast it 
from her as firmly as if already a wedded wife, with her hus- 
band's honor in her charge. She was one of those women 
with whom man's trust is forever safe, and to whom a love at 
variance with plighted troth is an impossibility. So she lives 
in my thoughts still, as I saw her last, five-and-twenty years 
ago, unalterable in her youth and beauty. And I have been 
as true to her hallowed remembrance as she was true to her 
maiden vows. May I never see her again on earth ! Her or 
her likeness I may find amid the stars. No," he added, in a 
lighter and cheerier tone, " no ; I do not think that my actual 
destinies, my ways of life here below, have been affected by 
her loss. Had I won her, I can scarcely conceive that I should 
have become more tempted to ambition or less enamored of 
home. Still, whatever leaves so deep a furrow in a man's heart 
can not be meant in vain. Where the plowshare cuts, there 
the seed is sown, and there later the corn will spring. In a 



296 MOTIVE POWER. 

word, I believe that every thing of moment which befalls us 
in this life — which occasions us some great sorrow — for which, 
in this life, we see not the uses — has, nevertheless, its definite 
object, and that that object will be visible on the other side of 
the grave. It may seem but a barren grief in the history of a 
life — it may prove a fruitful joy in the history of a soul ; for, 
if nothing in this world is accident, surely all that which af- 
fects the only creature upon earth to whom immortality is an- 
nounced must have a distinct and definite purpose, often not 
developed till immortality begins." 

Here we had entered on the wide spaces of the park. The 
deer and the kine were asleep on the silvered grass, or under 
the shade of the quiet trees. Now, as we cleared a beech 
grove, we saw the lights gleaming from the windows of the 
house, and the moon, at her full, resting still over the peaceful 
housetop. Truly had Percival said "that there are trains of 
thought set in motion by the stars which are dormant in the 
glare of the sun ;" truly had he said, too, " that without such 
thoughts man's thinking is incomplete." 

We gained the house, and, entering the library, it was pleas- 
ant to see how instinctively all rose to gather round the master. 
They had missed Pei'cival's bright presence the whole day. 

Some little time afterward, Avhen, seated next to Lady Ger- 
trude, I was talking to her of the Grays, I observed Tracey 
take aside the painter, and retire with him into the adjoining 
colonnade. They were not long absent. When they returned, 
Bourke's face, usually serious, was joyous and elated. In a few 
moments, with all his Irish warmth of heart, he burst forth with 
the announcement of the new obligations he owed to Sir Per- 
cival Tracey. "*'" I have always said," exclaimed he, " that, give 
me an opening, and I will find or make my way. I have the 
opening now ; you shall see !" We all poured our congratu- 
lations upon the yoimg enthusiast, except Henry Thornhill, and 
his brow was shaded and his lip quivered. Clara, watching 
him, curbed her own friendly words to the artist, and, drawing 
to her husband's side, placed her hand tenderly on his shoulder. 
"Pish! do leave me alone," muttered the ungracious churl. 

" See," whispered Percival to me, " what a brute that fine 
young fellow would become if we insisted on making him hap- 
py our own way, and saving him from the chance of being 
shot !" 



MOTIVE POWEE. 297 

Therewitli vising, he gently led away Clara, to M'hose soft 
eyes tears had rushed ; and looking back to Henry, whose head 
was bended over a volume of " The Wellington Dispatclies," 
said in his ear, half fondly, half reproachfully, " Poor young 
fool ! how bitterly you will repent every word, every look of 
unkindness to her when — when she is no more at your side to 
pardon you !" 

That night it was long before I slept. I pleased myself with 
what is now grown to me a rare amusement, viz., the laying 
out plans for the morrow. This holiday, with Tracey all to 
myself; this summer sail on the seas ; this interval of golden 
idlcsse, refined by intercourse Avith so serene an intelligence, 
and on subjects so little broached in the world of cities, fas- 
cinated my imagination ; and I revolved a hundred questions 
it would be delightful to raise, a hundred problems it would 
be impossible to solve. Though my life has been a busy one, 
I believe that constitutionally I am one of the most indolent 
men alive. To lie on the grass in summer noons under breath- 
less trees, to glide over smooth waters, and watch the still 
shadows on tranquil shores, is happiness to me. I need then 
no books — then no companion. But if to that happiness in the 
mei"e luxury of repose I may add another happiness of a higher 
nature, it is in converse with some one friend ujDon subjects 
remote from the practical work-day world — subjects akin less 
to our active thoughts than to our dream-like reveries — sub- 
jects conjectural, speculative, fantastic, embracing not positive 
opinions — for opinions are things combative and disputatiovis 
— but rather those queries and guesses which start up from the 
farthest border-land of our reason, and lose themselves in air 
as we attempt to chase and seize them. 

And perhaps this sort of talk, which leads to no conclusions 
clear enough for the uses of wisdom, is the more alluring to 
me, because it is very seldom to be indulged. I carefully sep- 
arate from the business of life all which belong to the vision- 
ary realm of speculative conjecture. From the world of ac- 
tion I hold it imperatively safe to banish the ideas which ex- 
hibit the cloudland of metaphysical doubts and mystical be- 
liefs. In the actual world, let me see by the same broad sun 
that gives light to all men : it is only in the world of reverie 
that I amuse myself with the sport of the dark lantern, letting 
its ray shoot before me into the gloom, and caring not if, in its 

]sr2 



298 MOTIVE POWER. 

illusive light, the tliorn-tree in my jDath take the aspect of a 
ghost. I shall notice the thorn-tree all the better, distinguish 
more clearly its shape, when I pass by it the next day under 
the sun, for the impression it made on my fancy, seen first by 
the gleam of the dark lantern. ISTow Tracey is one of the very 
few highly-educated men it has been my lot to know with 
whom one can safely mount in rudderless balloons, drifting 
wind-tossed after those ideas which are the phantoms of Rev- 
erie, and wander, ghost-like, out of castles in the air ; and my 
mind found a playfellow in his, where, in other men's minds as 
richly cultured, it found only companions or competitors in 
taskwork. 

Toward dawn I fell asleep, and dreamed that I was a child 
once more, gathering bluebells and chasing dragon-flies amid 
murmuring water-reeds. The next day I came down late ; all 
had done breakfast. The painter was already gone ; the libra- 
I'ian had retired into his den. Henry Thornhill was walking 
by himself to and fro in front of the window, with folded arms 
and downcast brow. Percival was seated apart writing letters. 
Clara was at Avork, stealing every now and then a mournful 
glance toward Henry. Lady Gertrude, punctiliously keeping 
her place by the tea-urn, filled my cup, and pointed to a heap 
of letters formidably ranged before my plate. I glanced anx- 
iously and rapidly over these unwelcomed epistles. Thank 
heaven, nothing to take me back to London ! My political 
correspondent informed me, by a hasty line, that the dreaded 
motion which stood first on the parliamentary paper for that 
day would in all probability be postponed, agreeably to the re- 
quest of the government. The mover of it had not, however, 
given a positive answer; he would do so in the course of the 
night (last night) ; and there was little doubt that, as a pro- 
fessed supporter of the government, he would yield to the re- 
quest that had been made to him. 

So, after I had finished my abstemious breakfast, I took Per- 
cival aside and told him that I considered myself free to pro- 
long my stay, and asked him, in a whisper, if he had yet re- 
ceived the ofiicial letter he expected, announcing young Thorn- 
hill's exchange and promotion. 

" Yes," said he, " and I only waited for you to announce its 
contents to poor Henry; for I wish you to tell me whether 
you think the news will make him as happy as yesterday he 
thou'^ht it Avould." 



MOTIVE POWER. 299 

Tracey aud I then went out, and joined Henry in his walk. 
The young man turned round on us an impatient countenance. 

" So we have lost Bourke," said Tracey. " I hope he will 
return to England Avith the reputation he goes forth to seek." 

" Ay," said Henry, " Bourke is a lucky dog to have found, 
in one who is not related to him, so warm and so true a 
friend." 

" Every dog, lucky or unlucky, has his day," said Percival, 
gravely. 

"Every dog except a house-dog," returned Henry. "A 
house-dog is thought only fit for a chain and a kennel." 

"'Ah! happy if his happiness he knew!'" replied Tracey. 
" But I own that liberty compensates for the loss of a warm 
litter and a good dinner. Away from the kennel and off with 
the chain ! Read this letter and accept my congratulations — 
J/c(/or Thornhill!" 

The young man started ; the color rushed to his cheeks ; he 
glanced hastily over the letter held out to him ; dropped it ; 
caught his kinsman's hand, and, pressing it to his heart, ex- 
claimed, " Oh, sir, thanks, thanks ! So, then, all the while I 
was accusing you of obstructing my career, you were quietly 
promoting it. How can you forgive me my petulance, my in- 
gratitude ?" 

"Tut!" said Percival, kindly, "the best-tempered man is 
sometimes cross in his cups ; and nothing, perhaps, more irri- 
tates a young brain than to get drunk on the love of glory." 

At the word glory the soldier's crest rose, his eye flashed 
fire, his whole aspect changed, it became lofty and noble. Sud- 
denly his eye caught sight of Clara, who had stepped out of 
the window, and stood gazing on him. His head dropped, 
tears rushed to his eyes, and with a quivering, broken voice, 
he muttered, "Poor Clara — my wife, my darling! Oh, Sir 
Percival, truly you said how bitterly I should repent every un- 
kind word and look. Ah ! they will haunt me !" 

"Put aside regrets now. Go and break the news to your 
wife ; support, comfort her ; you alone can. I have not dared 
to tell her." 

Henry sighed, and went, no longer joyous, but with slow 
step and paling cheek, to the place where Clara stood. We 
saw him bend over the hand she held out to him, kiss it hum- 
bly, and then, passing his arm round her waist, he drew her 



300 MOTIVE POWER. 

away into the farther recesses of the garden, and both disap- 
peared from our eyes. 

" No," said I, " he is not happy ; like us all, he finds that 
things coveted have no longer the same charm when they are 
things possessed. Clara is avenged already. But you have 
done wisely. Let him succeed or let him fail, you have re- 
moved from Clara her only rival. If you had debarred him 
from honor, you would have estranged him from love, Now 
you have bound him to Clara for life. She has ceased to be 
an obstacle to his dreams, and henceforth she herself will be 
the dream which his Avaking life will sigh to regain." 

" Heaven grant he may come back with both his legs and 
both his arms, and perhaps with a bit of ribbon or five shillings' 
worth of silver on his breast !" said Percival, trying hard to 
be lively. " Of all my kinsmen, I think I like him the best. 
He is rough as the east wind, but honest as the day. Heighho ! 
they will both leave us in an hour or two. Clara's voice is so 
sweet ; I wonder when she will sing again ! What a blank 
the place will seem without those two young faces ! As soon 
as they are gone we two will be ofi*. Aunt Gertrude does not 
like Bellevue, and will pay a visit for a few days to a cousin 
of hers on the other side of the county. I must send on be- 
fore to let the housekeeper at Bellevue prepare for our coming. 
Meanwhile, pardon me if I leave you — perhaps you have let- 
ters to write ; if so, dispatch them." 

I was in no humor for writing letters ; but, when Percival 
left me, I strolled from the house into the garden, and, reclin- 
ing there on a bench opposite one of the fountains, enjoyed the 
calm beauty of the summer morning. Time slipped by. Ev- 
ery now and then I caught sight of Henry and Clara among 
the lilacs in one of the distant walks, his arm still round her 
waist, her head leaning on his shoulder. At length they went 
into the house, doubtless to prepare for their departure. 

I thought of the wild folly with which youth casts away the 
substance of happiness to seize at the shadow which breaks on 
the wave that mirrors it ; wiser and happier surely the tran- 
quil choice of Gray, though with gifts and faculties far beyond 
those of the young man who mistook the desire of fame for 
the power to win it. And then my thoughts settling back 
on myself, I became conscious of a certain melancholy. How 
poor and niggard compared with my early hopes had been my 



MOTIVE POWER. 301 

ultimate results ! How questioned, grudged, and litigated my 
right of title to every inch of ground that my thought had dis- 
covered or my toils had cultivated! What motive power in 
me had, from boyhood to the verge of age, urged me on " to 
scorn delight and love laborious days ?" Whatever the motive 
power once had been, I could no longer trace it. If vanity — 
of which, doubtless, in youth I had my human share — I had 
long since grown rather too callous than too sensitive to that 
love of approbation in which vanity consists. I was stung by 
no penury of fortune, influenced by no feverish thirst for a 
name that should outlive my grave, fooled by no hope of the 
rewards which goad on ambition. I had reached the age when 
Hope weighs her anchor and steers forth so far that her am- 
plest sail seems but a silvery speck on the last line of the ho- 
rizon. Certainly I flattered myself that my purposes linked my 
toils to some slight service to mankind ; that in graver efibrts 
I was asserting opinions in the value of which to human inter- 
ests I sincerely believed, and in lighter aims venting thoughts 
and releasing fancies which might add to the culture of the 
world — not, indeed, fruitful harvests, but at least some lowly 
flowers. But, though such intent might be within my mind, 
could I tell how far I unconsciously exaggerated its earnest- 
ness ? still less could I tell how far the intent was dignified by 
success. "Have I done aught for which mankind would be 
the worse were it swept into nothingness to-raorrow?" is a 
question which many a grand and fertile genius may, in its 
true humility, address mournfully to itself. It is but a nega- 
tive praise, though it has been recorded as a high one, to leave 

"No line which, dying, we would wish to blot." 

If that be all, as well leave no line at all. He has written in 
vain who does not bequeath lines that, if blotted, would be a 
loss to that treasure-house of mind which is the everlasting 
jDossession of the world. Who, yet living, can even presume 
to guess if he shall do this ? Not till at least a century after 
his brain and his hand are dust can even critics begin to form 
a rational conjecture of an author's or a statesman's uses to 
his kind. Was it, then, as Gray had implied, merely the force 
of habit which kept me in movement ? if so, was it a habit 
worth all the sacrifice it cost ? Thus meditating, I forgot tliat 
if all men reasoned thus and acted according to such reasoning, 



S02 MOTIVE POWER. 

the earth woidd have no intermediate human dwellers between 
the hewers and diggers, and the idlers, born to consume the 
fruits which they do not plant. Farewell, then, to all the em- 
bellishments and splendors by which civilized man breathes his 
mind and his soul into nature. For it is not only the genius 
of rarest intellects which adorns and aggrandizes social states, 
but the aspirations and the efforts of thousands and millions, 
all toward tlie advance, and uplifting, and beautifying of the 
integral, universal state by the energies native to each. Where 
would be the world fit for Traceys and Grays to dwell in, if 
all men philosophized like the Traceys and the Grays ? Where 
all the gracious arts, all the generous rivalries of mind, that 
deck and animate the bright calm of peace? Where all the 
devotion, heroism, self-sacrifice in a common cause, that exalt 
humanity even amid the rage and deformities of war, if, through- 
out well-ordered, close-welded states, there ran not electrically, 
from breast to breast, that love of honor which is a jiart of 
man's sense of beauty, or that instinct toward utility which, 
even more than the genius too exceptional to be classed among 
the normal regulations of social law, creates the marvels of 
mortal progress ? Not, however, I say, did I then address to 
myself these healthful and manly questions. I felt only that I 
repined, and looked with mournful and wearied eyes along an 
agitated, painful, laborious past. Rousing myself with an ef- 
fort from these embittered contemplations, the charm of the 
external nature insensibly refreshed and gladdened me. I in- 
haled the balm of an air sweet with flowers, felt the joy of the 
summer sun, from which all life around seemed drawing visi- 
ble happiness, and said to myself gayly, "At least to-day is 
mine — this blissful sunlit day — 

'Nimium breves 
Floves amsenje ferre jube roste, 
Dum res et iEtas et sororum, 
Fila trium patiuntur atra!' " 

So murmuring, I rose as from a dream, and saw before me a 
strange figure — a figure uncouth, sinister, ominous as the evil 
genius that startled Brutus on the eve of Philippi. I knew 
by an unmistakable instinct that that figure loas an evil genius. 
" Do you want me? Who and what are you?" I asked, fal- 
teringly. 



MOTIYE POWEE. 303 

" Please your honor, I come express from the N Station. 

A telegram." 

I opened the scrap of paper extended to me, and read these 
words : 

" O positively brings on his motion. Announced it last 

night too late for post. Division certain — probably before 
dinner. Every vote wanted. Come dii'ectly." 

Said the express with a cruel glee, as I dropped the paper, 
" Sir, the station-master also received a telegram to send over 
a fly. I have brought one; only just in time to catch the half 
past twelve o'clock ; no other train till six. You had best be 
quick, sir." 

No help for it. I hurried back to the house, bade my serv- 
ant follow by the next train with my portmanteau — no mo- 
ments left to wait for packing ; found Tracey in his quiet 
study — put the telegram into his hands. " You see my excuse 
— adieu !" 

" Does this motion, then, interest you so much ? Do you 
mean to speak on it ?" 

" No, but it must not be carried. Every vote against it is 
of consequence. Besides, I have promised to vote, and can 
not stay away with honor." 

"Honor! That settles it. I must go to Bellevue alone; 
or shall I take Caleb, and make him teach me Hebrew ? But 
surely you will join me to-morrow or the next day?" 

"Yes, if I can. But, heavens!" (glancing at the clock), 
" not half an hour to reach the station — six miles off. Kindest 
regards to Lady Gertrude — poor Clara — Henry — and all. 
Heaven bless you !" 

I am in the fly — I am off, I gain the station just in time 
for the train ; arrive at the House of Commons in more than 
time as to a vote, for the debate not only lasted all that night, 
but was adjourned till the next week, and lasted the greater 
part of that, when it was withdrawn, and — no vote at all ! 

But I could not then return to Tracey. Every man accus- 
tomed to business in London knows how, once there, hour 
after hour arises a something that will not allow him to de- 
part. When at length freed, I knew Tracey would no longer 
need my companionship — his Swedish philosoplier Avas then 
with him. They were deep in scientific mysteries, on which, 
as I could throw no light, I should be but a profane intruder. 



304 MOTIVE POWER. 

Besides, I was then summoned to my own country place, and 
had there to receive my own guests, long jDre-engaged. So 
passed the rest of the summer ; in the autumn I went abroad, 
and have never visited the Castle of Indolence since those 
golden days. In truth I resisted a frequent and a haunting 
desire to do so. I felt that a second and a longer sojourn in 
that serene but relaxing atmosphere might unnerve me for the 
work which I had imposed on myself, and sought to persuade 
my tempted conscience was an inexorable duty. Experience 
had taught me that in the sight of that intellectual repose, so 
calm and so dreamily happy, my mind became unsettled, and 
nourished seeds that might ripen to discontent of the lot I had 
chosen for myself. So then, sicut metis est 77ios, I seized a con- 
solation for the loss of enjoyments that I might not act anew, 
by living them over again in fancy and remembrance : I give 
to my record the title of " Motive Power," though it contains 
much episodical to that thesis, and though it rather sports 
around the subject so indicated than subjects it to strict anal- 
ysis. But I here take for myself the excuse I have elsewhere 
made for Montaigne, in his loose observance of the connection 
between the matter and the titles of his essays. 

I must leave it to the reader to blame or acquit me for hav- 
ing admitted so many lengthy descriptions, so many digressive 
turns and shifts of thought and sentiment, through which, as 
through a labyrinth, he winds his way, with steps often check- 
ed and often retrogressive, still, sooner or later, creeping on 
to the heart of the maze. There I leave him to find the way 
out. Labyrinths have no interest if we give the clew to them. 



ESSAY XXIII. 

(Dn €txim |5riEripU0 nf Slrt h Wuh of Smiig- 
inntinn. 

Every description of literature has its appropriate art. 
This truth is immediately acknowledged in works of imagina- 
tion. We speak, in familiar phrase, of the Dramatic Art, or 
the Art of Poetry. But the presence of art is less generally 
recognized in works addressed to the reason. Nevertheless, 
art has its place in a treatise on political economy or in a table 
of statistics ; for in all subjects, however rigidly confined to 
abstract principles or positive facts, the principles and facts 
can not be thrown together pell-mell ; they require an artistic 
arrangement. Expression itself is an art; so that even works 
of pure science can not dispense with art, because they can 
not dispense with expression. What is called method in Sci- 
ence is the art by which Science makes itself intelligible. 
There is exquisite art in the arrangement of a problem in 
Euclid. If a man have a general knowledge of the fact that 
all lines drawn from the centre of a circle to the circumference 
are equal, but has never read the Third Book of Euclid, let 
him attempt to show, in his own w^ay, that lines equally dis- 
tant from the centre are equal to one another, and then com- 
pare his attempt with Euclid's theorem (Book III., Prop. 14), 
and he will at once acknowledge the master's art of demon- 
stration. Pascal is said to have divined, by the force of his 
own genius, so large a number of Euclid's propositions as to 
appear almost miraculous to his admirers, and Avholly incredi- 
ble to his aspersers. Yet that number did not exceed eight- 
een. In fact, art and science have their meeting-point in 
method. 

And though Kant applies the word genkis {ingenimn) 
strictly to the cultivators of Art, refusing to extend it to the 
cultivators of Science, yet the more we examine the highest 



306 CERTAIN PRINCIPLES OF ART 

orders of intellect, whether devoted to science, to art, or even 
to action, the more clearly we shall observe the presence of a 
faculty common to all such orders of intellect, because essen- 
tial to completion in each — a faculty which seems so far in- 
tuitive or innate {ingenhcm) that, though study and practice 
l^erfect it, they do not suffice to bestow, viz., the faculty of 
grouping into order and symmetrical form ideas in themselves 
scattered and dissimilar. This is the faculty of Method; and 
though every one who possesses it is not necessarily a great 
man, yet every great man must possess it in a very superior 
degree, whether he be a poet, a philosopher, a statesman, a 
general ; for every great man exhibits the talent of organiza- 
tion or construction, whether it be in a poem, a philosophical 
system, a policy, or a strategy. And without method there is 
no organization nor construction. But in art, method is less 
perceptible than in science, and in familiar language usually 
receives some other name. Nevertheless, we include the 
meaning when we speak of the composition of a picture, the 
arrangement of an oration, the plan of a poem. Art employ- 
ing method for the symmetrical formation of beauty, as science 
employs it for the logical exposition of truth ; but the mechan- 
ical process is, in the last, ever kept visibly distinct, while in 
the first it escapes from sight amid the shows of color and 
the curves of grace. 

And though, as I have said, Art enters into all works, 
whether addressed to the reason or to the imagination, those 
addressed to the imagination are works of Art^ar emphasis, 
for they require much more than the elementary principles 
which Art has in common with Science. The two part com- 
pany with each other almost as soon as they meet on that 
ground of Method Mdiich is common to both — Science ever 
seeking, through all forms of the Ideal, to realize the Positive; 
Art, from all forms of the Positive, ever seeking to extract the 
Ideal. The beau ideal is not in the reason ; its only existence 
is in the imagination. To create in the reader's mind images 
which do not exist in the world, and leave them there, irapei'- 
ishable as the memories of friends with whom he has lived, 
and of scenes in which he has had his home, obviously neces- 
sitates a much ampler and much subtler Art than that which 
is required to make a positive fact clear to the comprehension. 
The highest quality of Art, as applied to literature, is there- 



IN WORKS OP IMAGINATION. 307 

fore called "the Creative." Nor do I attach any importance 
to the evil of some overingenioiis critics, who have denied 
that genius in reality creates^ inasmuch as the forms it presents 
are only new combinations of ideas already existent. New 
combinations are, to all plain intents and purposes, creations. 
It is not in the power of man to create something out of noth- 
ing. And though the Deity no doubt can do so now — as 
those who acknowledge that the Divine Creator preceded all 
created things must suppose that He did before there was 
even a Chaos — yet, so far as it is vouchsafed to us to trace 
Him through Nature, all that we see in created Nature is com- 
bined out of what before existed. Art, therefore, may be said 
to create v/hen it combines existent details into new Avholes. 
No man can say that the watch which lies before me, or the 
table on which I write, were not created (tliat is, made) by the 
watch-maker or cabinet-maker, because the materials which 
compose a watch or a table have been on the earth, so far as 
we know of it, since the eai'th was a world fit for men to dwell 
in. Therefore, neither in Nature nor in Art can it be truly 
said that that power is not creative which brings into the 
world a new form, though all which compose a form, as all 
which compose a flower, a tree, a mite, an eleiDhant, a man, 
are, if taken in detail, as old as the gases in the air we breathe, 
or the elements of the earth we tread. But the Creative Fac- 
ulty in Art requires a higher power than it asks in Nature ; 
for Nature may create things without life and mind — Nature 
may create dust and stones Avhich have no other life and mind 
than are possessed by the animalcules that inhabit them. But 
the moment Art creates, it puts into its creations life and in- 
tellect; and' it is only in proportion as the life thus bestowed 
endures beyond the life of man, and the intellect thus expressed 
exceeds that which millions of men can embody in one form, 
that we acknowledge a really great work of Art — that we say 
of the artist, centuries after he is dead, " He was indeed a 
poet," that is, a creator ; he has created a form of life which 
the world did not know before, and breathed into that form a 
spirit which preserves it from the decay to which all of man 
himself except his soul is subjected. Achilles is killed by 
Paris; Homer recreates Achilles; and the Achilles of Plomer 
is alive to-day. 

By the common consent of all educated nations, the highest 



308 CEETAIN PRINCIPLES OP AET 

order of Art in Literature is Poetic Narrative, whether in the 
form of the Epic or that of the Drama. We are therefore 
compelled to allow that the objective faculty — which is the 
imperative essential of excellence in either of these two sum- 
mits of the " forked Parnassus" — attains to a sublimer reach 
of art than the subjective — that is, in order to make my scho- 
lastic adjectives familiar to common apprehension, the artist 
who reflects vividly and truthfully, in the impartial mirror of 
his mind, other circumstances, other lives, other characters 
than his own, belongs to a higher order than he who, subject- 
ing all that he contemplates to his own idiosyncrasy, reflects 
but himself in his various images of nature and mankind. We 
admit this when we come to examples. We admit that Homer 
is of a higher order of art than Sappho ; that Shakspeare's 
" Macbeth" is of a higher order of art than Shakspeare's Son- 
nets; "Macbeth" being purely objective, the Sonnets being 
perhaps the most subjective poems which the Elizabethan age 
can exhibit. 

But it is not his choice of the highest order of art that makes 
a great artist. If one man says " I will write an epic," and 
writes but a mediocre epic, and another man says "I will 
write a song," and writes an admirable song, the man who 
writes what is admirable is superior to him who writes what 
is mediocre. There is no doubt that Horace is inferior to 
Homer — so inferior that we can not apportion the difierence. 
The one is epic, the other lyrical. But there is no doubt also 
that Horace is incalculably superior to Tryphiodorus or Sir 
Richard Blackmore, though they are epical and he is lyrical. 
In a word, it is perfectly obvious that in proportion to the 
height of the art attempted must be the powers of the artist, 
so that there is the requisite harmony between his subject and 
his genius ; and that he who commands a signal success in one 
of the less elevated spheres of art must be considered a greater 
artist than he who obtains but indifferent success in the most 
arduous. 

ISTevertheless, Narrative Necessitates so high a stretch of 
imagination, and so wide a range of intellect, that it will al- 
ways obtain, if tolerably well told, a precedence of immediate 
popularity over the most exquisite productions of an inferior 
order of the solid and staple qualities of imagination — so much 
so that, even where the first has resort to what may be called 



IN WORKS OF IMAGINATION. 309 

the brick and mortar of prose, as compared with the ivory, 
marble, and cedar of verse, a really great work of narrative in 
prose will generally obtain a wider audience, even among the 
most fastidious readers, than poems, however good, in which 
the imagination is less creative, and the author rather describes 
or moralizes over what is, than invents and vivifies what never 
existed. The advantage of the verse lies in its durability. 
Prose, when appealing to the imagination, has not the same 
characteristics of enduring longevity as verse; first and chief- 
ly, it is not so easily remembered. "Who remembers twenty 
lines in "Ivanhoe?" Who does not remember twenty lines 
in the "Deserted Village?" Verse chains a closer and more 
minute survey to all beauties of thought expressed by it than 
prose, however elaborately completed, can do. And that sur- 
vey is carried on and perpetuated by successive generations ; 
60 that in a great prose fiction, one hundred years after its 
date, there are innumerable beauties of thought and fancy 
which lie wholly unobserved, and in a poem, also surveyed one 
hundred years after its publication, there is probably not a 
single beauty undetected. This holds even in the most popu- 
lar and imperishable prose fictions, read at a time of life Avhen 
our memory is most tenacious, such as " Don Quixote" or 
"Robinson Crusoe," "Gulliver's Travels" or the "Arabian 
Nights." We retain, indeed, a lively impression of the pleas- 
ure derived from the perusal of those masterpieces ; of the sa- 
lient incidents in story ; the broad strokes of character, wit, 
or fancy ; but quotations of striking passages do not rise to 
our lips as do the verses of poets immeasurably inferior, in the 
grand creative gifts of Poetry, to those fictionists of prose, and 
hence the Verse Poet is a more intimate companion through- 
out time than the Prose Poet can hope to be. In our mo- 
ments of aspiration or of despondency, his musical thoughts 
well up from our remembrance. By a couple of lines he kin- 
dles the ambition of our boyhood, or soothes into calm the 
melancholy contemplations of our age. 

C(^(eris paribus, there can be no doubt of the advantage of 
verse over prose in all works of the imagination. But an art- 
ist does not select his own department of art wdth deliberate 
calculation of the best chances of posthumous renown. His 
choice is determined partly by his own organization and part- 
ly also by the circumstances of his time ; for these last may 



310 CERTAIN PRINCIPLES OF ART 

control and tyrannize over his own more special bias. For 
instance, in our country, at present, it is scarcely an exaggera- 
tion to say that there is no tragic drama — scarcely any living 
drama at all ; whether from the want of competent actors, or 
from some disposition on the part of our public and our critics 
not to accord to a successful drama the rank which it holds in 
other nations, and once held in this, I do not cai'c to examine; 
but the fact itself is so clear, that the Drama, though in reality 
it is the highest order of poem with the exception of the Epic, 
seems to have wholly dropped out of our consideration as be- 
longing to any form of poetry whatsoever. If an Englishman 
were asked by a foreigner to name even the minor jDoets of 
his country who have achieved reputation since the death of 
Lord Byron, it would not occur to him to name Sheridan 
Knowles, though perhaps no poet since Shakspeare has writ- 
ten so many successful dramas ; nay, if he were asked to quote 
the principal poets whom England has produced, I doubt very 
much whether Ben Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, or Otway 
would occur to his mind as readily as Collins or Cowper. We 
have forgotten, in short, somehow or other, excejDt in the single 
instance of Shakspeare, that dramas in verse are poems, and 
that where we have a great dramatist, who can hold the hearts 
of an audience spellbound, we have a poet immeasurably su- 
pei'ior, in all the great qualities of poetry, to three fourths of 
the lyrical, and still more of the didactic versifiers who, letter- 
ed and bound as British poets, occupy so showy a range on 
our shelves. It is not thus any where except in our country. 
Ask a Frenchman who are the greatest poets of France, he 
names her dramatists immediately — Corneille, Racine, Moliere. 
Ask a German, he names Goethe and Schiller; and if you in- 
quire which of the works of those great masters in all variety 
of song he considers their greatest jjoems, he at once names 
their dramas. But to return : with us, therefore, the circum- 
stances of the time would divert an author, whose natural bias 
might otherwise lead him toward dramatic composition, from a 
career so discouraged ; and as the largest emoluments and the 
loudest reputation ai*e at this time bestowed ujDon prose fic- 
tion, so he who would otherwise have been a dramatist be- 
comes a novelist. I speak here, indeed, from some personal 
experience, for I can remember well that when Mr. Macready 
undertook the management of one of those two great national 



IN AVOKKS OF IMAGINATION. 31\ 

theatres which are now lost to the national drama, many liter- 
ary men turned their thoughts toward writing for the stage, 
sure that in Mr. Macready they could find an actor to embody 
their conceptions ; a critic who could not only appreciate, but 
advise and guide ; and a gentleman with whom a man of let- 
ters could establish frank and pleasant understanding. But 
when Mr. Macready withdrew from an experiment probably 
requiring more capital than he deemed it prudent to risk in 
the mere rental of a theatre, which in other countries would 
be defrayed by the state, the literary flow toward the drama 
again ebbod back, and many a play, felicitously begun, remains 
to this day a fragment in the limbo of neglected pigeon-holes. 
The circumstances of the time, therefore, though they do not 
arrest the steps of genius, alter its direction. Those depart- 
ments of art in which the doors are the most liberally thrown 
open, will necessarily most attract the throng of artists ; and 
it is the more natural that there should be a rush toward nov- 
el-writing, because no man and no woman who can scribble at 
all ever doubt that they can scribble a novel. Certainly it 
seems that the kinds of writing most difficult to write well are 
the easiest to write ill. Where are the little children who can 
not Avrite what they c-all poetry, or the big children who can 
not write what they call novels ? 

^' Scribimus indocti doctique poemata passim," 
says Horace of the writers of his day. In our day the saying 
applies in most force to that class oi poemata which pretends 
to narrate the epic of life in the form of prose. For the docti 
as well as the indocti — men the most learned in all but the art 
of novel-writing — write novels, no less than the most ignorant, 
and often with no better success. One gentleman, wishing to 
treat us with a sermon, puts it into -a novel; another gentle- 
man, whose taste is for political disquisition, puts it into a nov- 
el ; High-Church, and Low-Church, and No Church at all, To- 
ries, and Radicals, and speculators on Utopia, fancy that they 
condescend to adapt truth to the ordinary understanding when 
they thrust into a novel that with which a novel has no more 
to do than it has with astronomy. Certainly it is in the pow- 
er of any one to write a book in three volumes, divide it into 
chapters, and call it a novel ; but those processes no more make 
the work a novel than they make it a History of China. We 
thus see many clever books by very clever writers, which, re- 



312 CERTAIN PRINCIPLES OF ART 

garded as novels, are detestable. They are written without 
the shghtest study of the art of narrative, and without the 
shghtest natural gift to divine it. Those critics who, in mod- 
ern times, have the most thoughtfully analyzed the laws of 
aesthetic beauty, concur in maintaining that the real truthful- 
ness of all works of imagination — sculpture, painting, written 
fiction — is so purely in the imagination, that the artist never 
seeks to rej^resent the positive truth, but the idealized image of 
a truth. As Hegel well observes, " That which exists in na- 
ture is a something purely individual and particular. Art, on 
the contrary, is essentially destined to manifest the general." 
A fiction, therefore, which is designed to inculcate an object 
wholly alien to the imagination, sins against the first law of 
art ; and if a writer of fiction narrow his scope to particulars 
60 positive as polemical controversy in matters ecclesiastical, 
political, or moral, his work may or may not be an able trea- 
tise, but it must be a very poor novel. 

Religion and politics are not, indeed, banished from works 
of imagination ; but to be artistically treated, they must be of 
the most general and the least sectarian description. In the 
record of the Fall of Man, for instance, Milton takes the most 
general belief in which all Christian nations concur — nay, in 
which nations not Christian still acknowledge a myth of rev- 
erential interest. Or, again, to descend from the highest rank 
of poetry to a third rank in novel- writing, when Mr. Ward, in 
bis charming story of "Tremaine," makes his very plot consist 
in the conversion of an infidel to a belief in the immortality of 
the soul, he does not depart from the artistic principle of deal- 
ing, not with particulars, but with generals. Had he exceed- 
ed the point at which he very wisely and skillfully stops, and 
pushed his argument beyond the doctrine on which all theo- 
logians concur, into questions on which they dispute, he would 
have lost sight of art altogether. So in politics; the general 
propositions from which politics start — the value of liberty, or- 
der, civilization, etc. — are not only within the competent range 
of imaginative fiction, but form some of its loftiest subjects ; 
but descend lower into the practical questions that divide the 
passions of a day, and you only waste all the complicated ma- 
chinery of fiction to do what you could do much better in a 
party pamphlet ; for, in fact, as the same fine critic, whom I 
have previously quoted, says, with admirable eloquence, 



IK WORKS OF IMAGINATION. 313 

"Man, inclosed on all sides in the limits of the finite, and aspiring to get 
beyond them, turns his looks toward a superior sphere, more pure and more 
true, where all the oppositions and contradictions of the finite disappear — 
where his intellectual liberty, spreading its wings, without obstacles and with- 
out limits, attains to its supreme end. This region is that of art, and its re- 
ality is the ideal. The necessity of the beau ideal in art is derived from the 
imperfections of the real. Tiie mission of art is to represent, under sensible 
forms, the free development of life, and especially of mind." 

What is herein said of Art more especially applies to the art 
of narrative fiction, whether it take the form of verse or prose ; 
for, when Ave come to that realm of fiction which, whether in 
verse or prose, is rendered most alluring to us, either by the 
fashion of our time or the genius of the artist, it is Avith a de- 
sire to escape, for the moment, out of this hard and narrow 
positive world in which we live; to forget, for a brief holiday, 
disputes between High-Church and Low-Church, Tories and 
Radicals; in fine, to lose sight oi particulars in the contempla- 
tion of general truths. We can have our real life, in all its 
harsh outlines, whenever we please ; we do not Avant to see 
that real life, but its ideal image, in the fable -land of art. 
There is another error common enough in second-rate novel- 
ists, and made still more common because it is praised by or- 
dinary critics, A'iz., an attempt at the exact imitation of w^hat 
is called Nature. One Avriter Avill thus draAV a character in 
fiction as minutely as he can from some individual he has met 
In life ; another perplexes us Avith the precise patois of pro- 
vincial mechanics — not as a mere relief to the substance of a 
dialogue, but as a prevalent part of it. Noav I hold all this to 
be thoroughly antagonistic to art in fiction : it is the relin- 
quishment of generals for the servile copy of particulars. . . . 
It can not be too often repeated that art is not the imitation 
of nature: it is only in the A'ery lowest degree of poetry, viz., 
the Descriptive, that the imitation of nature can be considered 
an artistic end. Even there, the true poet brings forth from 
nature more than nature says to the common ear or reveals to 
the common eye. The strict imitation of nature has always in 
it a something trite and mean : a man Avho mimics the cackle 
of the goose or the squeak of a pig so truthfully that for the 
moment he deceives us, attains but a praise that debases him. 
Nor this because there is something in the cackle of the goose 
and the squeak of the pig that in itself has a mean association ; 
for, as Kant says truly, " Even a man's exact imitation of the 

O 



314 CERTAIN PRINCIPLES OF ART 

song of the nightingale displeases us when we discover that it 
is a mimicry, and not the nightingale." Art does not imitate 
nature, but it founds itself on the study of nature — takes from 
nature the selections which best accord with its own intention, 
and then bestows on them that which nature does not possess, 
viz., the tnind and the soid of man. 

Just as he is but a Chinese kind of painter who seeks to 
give us, in exact prosaic detail, every leaf in a tree which, if 
we want to see only a tree, we could see in a field much better 
than in a picture, so he is but a prosaic and mechanical pre- 
tender to imagination who takes a man out of real life, gives 
us his photograph, and says, " I have copied Nature." If I 
want to see that kind of man, I could see him better in Oxford 
Street than in a novel. The great artist deals with large gen- 
eralities, broad types of life and character ; and though he may 
take flesh and blood for his model, he throws into the expres- 
sion of the figure a something which elevates the model into 
an idealized image. A porter sat to Correggio for the repre- 
sentation of a saint ; but Correggio so painted the porter, that 
the porter, on the canvas, was lost in the saint. 

Some critics have contended that the delineation of charac- 
ter artistically — viz., through the selection of broad generali- 
ties in the complex nature of mankind, rather than in the ob- 
servation of particulars by the portraiture of an individual — 
fails of the verisimilitude and reality — of the fiesh-and-blood 
likeness to humanity — which all vivid delineation of human 
character necessarily requires. But this objection is sufficient- 
ly confuted by a reference to the most sovereign masterpieces 
of imaginative literature. The principal characters in Homer 
— viz., Achilles, Hector, Ulysses, Nestor, Paris, Thersites, etc. 
— are so remarkably the types of large and enduring generali- 
ties in human character, that, in spite of all changes of time 
and manners, we still classify and designate individuals under 
those antique representative names. We call such or such a 
man the Ulysses, or Nestor, or Achilles, or Thersites of his 
class or epoch. "Virgil, on the contrary, has in ^neas but a 
feeble shadow reflected from no bodily form with which we 
are familiar, precisely because ^neas is not a type of any large 
and lasting genei-ality in human character, but a poetized and 
half allegorical silhouette of Augustus. There is, indeed, an 
antagonistic difference between fictitious character and bio- 



IX WORKS OF IMAGINATION. 315 

graphical character. In biography, truth must be sought in 
the preference of particulars to generals ; in imaginative crea- 
tions, truth is found in the preference of generals to particu- 
lars. We recognize this distinction more immediately with 
respect to the former. In biography, and indeed in genuine 
history, character appears faithful and vivid in proportion as it 
stands clear from all oesthetic purposes in the mind of the de- 
lineator. The moment the biographer^ or historian seeks to 
drape his personages in the poetic mantle, to subject their lives 
and actions to the poetic or idealizing process, we are immedi- 
ately and rightly seized Avith distrust of his accuracy. When 
he would dramatize his characters into types, they are unfaith- 
ful as likenesses. In like manner, if we carefully examine, we 
shall see that when the Poet takes on himself the task of the 
Biographer, and seeks to give minute representations of living 
individuals, his characters become conventional — only partially 
accurate — the accuracy being sought by exaggerating trivial 
peculiarities into salient attributes, rather than by the patient 
exposition of the concrete qualities which constitute the inte- 
rior nature of living men. Satire or eulogy obtrudes itself un- 
consciously to the artist, and mars the catholic and enduring 
truthfulness which, in works of imagination, belongs exclusive- 
ly to the invention of original images for testhetic ends. 

Goethe, treating of the drama, has said, that " to be theatric- 
al a piece must be symbolical; that is to say, every action 
must have an importance of its own, and it must tend to one 
more important still." It is still more important, for dramatic 
effect, that the dramatis personoe should embody attributes of 
passion, humor, sentiment, character, with which large miscel- 
laneous audiences can establish sympathy ; and sympathy can 
be only established by such a recognition of a something fa- 
miliar to our own natures, or to our conception of our natures, 
as will allure us to transport ourselves for the moment into 
the place of those who are passing through events which are 
not familiar to our actual experience. None of us have gone 
through the events which form the action of " Othello" or 
" Phedre," but most of us recognize in our natures, or our con- 
ceptions of our natures, sufficient elements for ardent love or 
agonizing jealousy to establish a sympathy with the agencies 
by which, in " Othello" and " Phedre," those passions are ex- 
pressed. Thus, the more forcibly the characters interest the 



316 CERTAIN PKINCIPLES OF ART 

generalities of mankind which compose an audience, the more 
truthfully they must rejDresent what such generalities of man- 
kind have in common — in short, the more they will be types, 
and the less they will be portraits. Some critics have supposed 
that in the delineation of types the artist would fall into the 
frigid error of representing mere philosophical abstractions. 
This, however, is a mistake which the poet who comprehends 
and acts upon the first principle of his art, viz., the preference 
of generals to particulars, will be the less likely to commit, in 
proportion as such generals are vivified into types of human- 
ity ; for he is not seeking to personate allegorically a passion, 
but to show the efiects of the passion upon certain given forms 
of character under certain given situations ; and he secures 
the individuality required, and avoids the lifeless pedantry of 
an allegorized abstraction, by reconciling passion, character, 
and situation with each other, so that it is always a living be- 
ing in whom we sympathize. And the rarer and moi'e unfa- 
miliar the situation of life in which the poet places his imag- 
ined character, the more in that character itself we must rec- 
ognize relations akin to our own flesh and blood, in order to 
feel interest in its fate. Thus, in the hands of great masters 
of fiction, whether dramatists or novelists, we become imcon- 
sciously reconciled, not only to unfamiliar, but to improbable, 
nay, to impossible situations, by recognizing some marvelous 
truthfulness to human nature in the thoughts, feelings, and ac- 
tions of the character represented, granting that such a charac- 
ter could be placed in such a situation. The finest of Shak- 
speare's imaginary characters are essentially typical. No one 
could suppose that the poet was copying from individuals of 
his acquaintance in the delineations of Hamlet, Macbeth, Othel- 
lo, lago, Angelo, Romeo. They are as remote from portrait- 
ure as are the conceptions of Caliban and Ariel. In fine, the 
distinctive excellence of Shakspeare's highest characters is 
that, while they embody truths the most subtle, delicate, and 
refining in the life and organization of men, those truths are so 
assorted as to combine with the elements which humanity has 
most in common. And it is obvious to any reader of ordinary 
reflection, that this could not be efiected if the characters 
themselves, despite all that is peculiar to each, were not, on 
the whole, typical of broad and popular divisions in the human 
family. 



IN WORKS OF IMAGINATION. 317 

Turning to prose fiction, if we look to the greatest novel 
which Europe has yet produced (meaning by the Avord novel 
a representation of familiar civilized life), viz., " Gil Bias," we 
find the characters therein are vivid and substantial, capable 
of daily application to the life around us in proportion as they 
are types and not portraits — such as Ambrose Lamela, Fabri- 
cio, the Archbishop of Grenada, etc.; and the characters that 
really fail of truth and completion are those which were in- 
tended to be portraits of individuals, such as Olivarez, the Duke 
de Lerma, the Infant of Spain, etc. And if it be true that, in 
Sangrado, Le Sage designed the portrait of the physician 
Hecquet (the ingenious author of the " Systeme de la Tritura- 
tion"), all we can say is that the portrait is a coarse caricature 
of the original, and that Sangrado is a creation worthy of Le 
Sage's genius only where the author abandons the attempt at 
resemblance to an individual, and, in the freedom and sport 
of creative humor, involuntarily generalizes attributes of char- 
acter common to all professional fanatics. Again, with that 
masterpiece of prose romance or fantasy, " Don Quixote," the 
character of the hero, if it could be regarded as that of an in- 
dividual whom Cervantes found in life, would be only an ab- 
normal and morbid curiosity subjected to the caricature of a 
satirist ; but, regarded as a type of certain qualities which are 
largely diffused throughout human nature, the character is psy- 
chologically true and artistically completed ; hence we borrow 
the word " Quixotic" whenever we Avould convey the idea of 
that extravagant generosity of enthusiasm for the redress of 
human wrongs, which, even in exciting ridicule, compels admi- 
ration and conciliates love. The grandeur of the conception 
of " Don Quixote" is its fidelity to a certain nobleness of sen- 
timent, which, however latent or however modified, exists in 
every genuinely noble nature ; and hence, perhaps, of all works 
of broad humor, "Don Quixote" is that which most approxi- 
mates the humorous to the side of the sublime. 

The reflective spirit of our age has strongly tended toward 
the development of a purpose in fiction, symbolical in a much 
more literal sense of the word than Goethe intended to con- 
vey in the extract I have quoted on the symbolical nature of 
theatrical composition. Besides the interest of plot and inci- 
dent, another interest is implied, more or less distinctly or 
more or less vaguely, which is that of the process and woi-k- 



318 CERTAIN PRINCIPLES OF ART 

ing out of a symbolical purpose interwoven with the popular 
action. Instead of appending to the fable a formal moral, a 
moral signification runs throughout the whole fable, but so lit- 
tle obtrusively that, even at the close, it is to be divined by 
the reader, not explained by the author. This has been a strik- 
ing characteristic of the art of our century. In the former 
century it was but very partially cultivated, and probably 
grows out of that reaction from materialism which distinguish- 
es our age from the last. Thus — to quote the most familiar 
illustrations I can think of — in Goethe's novel of " Wilhelm 
Meister," besides the mere interest of the incidents, there is an 
interest in the inward signification of an artist's apprenticeship 
in art, of a man's apprenticeship in life. In "Transformation," 
by Mr. Hawthorne, the mere story of outward incident can 
never be properly understood unless the reader's mind goes 
along with the exquisite mysticism which is symbolized by the 
characters. In that work, often very faulty in the execution, 
exceedingly grand in the conception, are typified the classical 
sensuous life, through Donato; the Jewish dispensation, through 
Miriam ; the Christian dispensation, through Hilda, who looks 
over the ruins of Rome from her virgin chamber amid the 
doves. 

To our master novelists of a former age — to Defoe, Fielding, 
Richardson, and Smollett — this double plot, if so I may call it, 
was wholly unknown. Swift, indeed, ai^prehended it in "Gul- 
liver's Travels," which I consider the greatest poem — that is, 
the greatest work of pure imagination and original invention — 
of the age in which he lived ; and Johnson divined it in " Ras- 
selas," which, but for the interior signification, would be the 
faulty and untruthful novel that Lord Macaulay has (I venture 
to opine, erroneously) declared it to be. Lord Macaulay cen- 
sures " Rasselas" because the Prince of Abyssinia does not 
talk like an Abyssinian. Now it seems to me that a coloring 
faithful to the manners of Abyssinia is a detail so trivial in 
reference to the object of the author of a philosophical romance, 
that it is more artistic to omit than to observe it. Rasselas 
starts at once, not from a positive, but from an imagined world 
— he starts from the Happy Valley to be conducted (in his 
progress through actual life, to the great results of his search 
after a happiness more perfect than that of the Happy Valley) 
to the Catacombs. This is the interior poetical signification 



IN WORKS OF IMAGINATION. 319 

of the tale of "Rasselas" — the final result of all departure from 
the happy land of contented ignorance is to be found at the 
grave. There, alone, a knowledge happier than ignorance 
awaits the seeker beyond the catacombs. For a moral so 
broad, intended for civilized readers, any attempt to suit color- 
ing and manners to Abyssinian savages would have been, not 
an adherence to, but a violation of, Ai*t. The artist here wise- 
ly disdains the particulars — he is dealing with generals. 

Thus Voltaire's Zadig is no more a Babylonian than John- 
son's Rasselas is an Abyssinian. Voltaire's object of philo- 
sophical satire would have been perfectly lost if he had given 
us an accurate and antiquarian transcript of the life of the Chal- 
dees ; and, indeed, the worst pai'ts in " Zadig" (speaking art- 
istically) ai'e those in which the author does, now and then, 
assume a quasi antique Oriental air, sadly at variance with 
meanings essentially modern, couched in irony essentially 
French. 

But the writer who takes this duality of purpose — who 
unites an interior symbolical signification with an obvious pop- 
ular interest in character and incident — errs, firstly, in execu- 
tion, if he render his symbolical meaning so distinct and de- 
tailed as to become obviously allegorical, unless, indeed, as in 
the " Pilgrim's Progress," it is avowedly an allegory ; and, 
secondly, he errs in artistic execution of his plan whenever he 
admits a dialogue not closely bearing on one or the other of 
his two purposes, and whenever he fails in merging the two 
into an absolute unity at the end. 

Now the fault I find chiefly with novelists is their own con- 
tempt for their craft. A clever and scholar-like man enters 
into it with a dignified contempt. " I am not going to write," 
he says, " a mere novel." What, then, is he going to write ? 
What fish's tail will he add to the horse's head ? A tragic 
poet might as well say, " I am not going to write a mere trag- 
edy." The first essential to success in the art you practice is 
respect for the art itself. Who could ever become a good 
shoemaker if he did not have a profound respect for the art 
of making shoes ? There is an ideal even in the humblest me- 
chanical craft. A shoemaker destined to excel his rivals will 
always have before his eye the vision of a perfect shoe, which 
he is always striving to realize, and never can. It was well 
said by Mr. Hazlitt, " That the city prentice who did not think 



320 CERTAIN PKINCIPLES OF AKT 

the lord mayor in his gilded coach was the greatest of human 
beings, would come to be hanged." Whatever our calling be, 
we can never rise in it unless we exalt, even to an exaggerated 
dignity, the elevation of the calling itself. We are noble peas- 
ants or noble kings just in proportion as we form a lofty esti- 
mate of the nobility that belongs to peasants or the nobility 
that belongs to kings. 

We may despair of the novelist who does not look upon a 
novel as a consummate work of art — who does not apply to it, 
as Fielding theoretically, as Scott practically, did, the rules 
which belong to the highest order of imagination. Of course 
he may fail of his standard, but he will fail less in proportion 
as the height of his standard elevates his eye and nerves his 
sinews. 

The first object of a novelist is to interest his reader; the 
next object is the quality of the interest. Interest in his story 
is essential, or he will not be read ; but if the quality of the 
interest be not high, he Avill not be read a second time. And 
if he be not read a second time by his own contemporaries, the 
chance is that he will not be read once by posterity. The de- 
gree of interest is for the many, the quality of interest for the 
few. But the many are proverbially fickle, the few are con- 
stant. Steadfast minorities secure, at last, the success of great 
measures, and confirm, at last, the fame of great writings. 

I have said that many who, in a healthful condition of our 
stage, would be dramatists, become novelists. But there are 
some material distinctions between the dramatic art and the 
narrative — distinctions as great as those between the orator- 
ical style and the literary. Theatrical efiects displease in a 
novel. In a novel much more than in a drama must be ex- 
plained and accounted for. On the stage the actor himself in- 
terprets the author ; and a look, a gesture, saves pages of wi-it- 
ing. In a novel the author elevates his invention to a new 
and original story; in a drama, I hold that the author does 
Avell to take at least the broad outlines of a story already made. 
It is an immense advantage to him to find a tale he is to dram- 
atize previously told, whether in a history, a legend, a romance, 
or in the play of another age or another land; and the more 
the tale be popularly familiarized to the audience, the higher 
will be the quality of the interest he excites. Thus, in the 
Greek tragedy, the story and the characters were selected from 



IN "WORKS OF IMAGINATION. 321 

the popular myths. Thus Shakspeare takes his story either 
from chronicles or novels. Thus Corneille, Racine, and Vol- 
taire take, from sources in antiquity the most familiarly known, 
their fables and their characters. Nor is it only an advantage 
to the dramatist that the audience should come to the scene 
somewhat prepared by previous association for the nature of 
the interest invoked ; it is also an advantage to the dramatist 
that his invention — being thus relieved from the demand on 
its powers in what, for the necessities of the dramatic art, is 
an unimportant, if not erroneous direction of art — is left more 
free to combine the desultory materials of the borrowed story 
into the harmony of a progressive plot; to reconcile the ac- 
tions of characters, whose existence the audience take for grant- 
ed, with probable motives ; and, in a word, to place the orig- 
inality there where alone it is essential to the drama, viz., in 
the analysis of the heart, in the delineation of passion, in the 
artistic development of the idea and purjiose which the drama 
illustrates, through the effects of situation and the poetry of 
form. 

But in the narrative of prose fiction an original story is not 
an auxiliary or erroneous, but an essential part of artistic in- 
vention ; and even where the author takes the germ of his 
subject and the sketch of his more imposing characters from 
History, he will find that he will be wanting in vs^armth of in- 
terest if the tale he tells be not distinct from that of the his- 
tory he presses into his service — more prominently brought 
forward, more minutely wrought out — and the character of the 
age represented, not only through the historical characters in- 
troduced, but those other and more general types of life which 
he will be compelled to imagine for himself. This truth is rec- 
ognized at once when we call to mind such masterpieces in his- 
torical fiction as "Ivanhoe," " Kenilworth," " Quentiu Dur- 
ward," and " I Promessi Sposi," 

In the tragic drama, however, historical subjects appear to 
necessitate a different treatment from that which most con- 
duces to the interest of romantic narrative. There is a dignity 
in historical characters which scarcely permits them to be 
transferred to the stage without playing before the audience 
the important parts which they played in life. When they 
enter on the scene they excite a predominating interest, and 
we should not willingly see them deposed into secondary 

O 2 



322 CERTAIN PEINCIPLES OF ART 

agencies in the conduct of the story. They ought not to be 
introduced at all unless in fitting correspondence with our no- 
tions of the station they occupied and the influence they ex- 
ercised in the actual world ; and thus, whether they are made 
fated victims through their sufierings, or fateful influences 
through their power, still, in the drama, it is through them 
that the story moves : them the incidents afiect — them the 
catasti'ophe involves — whether for their triumph or their fall. 

The drama not necessitating an original fable nor imaginary 
characters, that which it does necessitate in selecting a his- 
torical subject is the art of so arranging and concentrating 
events in history as to form a single action, terminating in a 
single end, wrought through progressive incidents clearly 
linked together. It will be seen that the dramatic treatment 
is, in this respect, opposed to the purely historical treatment ; 
for in genuine history there are innumerable secondary causes 
tending to each marked efiect, which the dramatist must whol- 
ly eliminate or set aside. He must, in short, aim at generals 
to the exclusion of particulars. 

And thus, as his domain is the passions, he must seek a plot 
which admits of situations for passion, and characters in har- 
mony with such situations. Great historical events in them- 
selves are rarely dramatic ; they are made so on the stage by 
the appeal to emotions with which, in private life, the audience 
are accustomed to sympathize. The preservation of the re- 
public of Venice from a conspiracy would have an interest in 
history from causes appealing to political reasoning that would 
be wholly without interest on the stage. The dramatist, 
therefore, places the preservation of Venice in the struggle of 
a woman's heart between the conflicting passions, with which, 
in private life, the audience could most readily sympathize. 
According as Belvidera acts, as between her husband and her 
father, Venice will be saved or lost. This is dramatic treat- 
ment — it is not historical. 

All delineations of passion involve the typical, because who- 
ever paints a passion common to mankind presents us with a 
human type of that passion, varied, indeed, through the char- 
acter of an individual and the situations in which he is placed, 
but still, in the expression of the passion itself, sufliciently ger- 
mane to all in whom that passion exists, whether actively or 
latently, to permit the spectator to transfer himself into the 



IN WOEKS OF IMAGINATION, 323 

place aud person of him who represents it. Hence the pas- 
sions of individuals, though affecting only themselves, or a 
very confined range of persons connected with them, com- 
mand, in reality, a far wider scope in artistic treatment than 
the political events affecting millions in historical fact; for 
political events, accurately and dispassionately described, are 
special to the time and agents ; they are traced through the 
logic of the reason, which only a comparative few exercise, and 
even the few exercise it in the calm of their closets — they do 
not come into the crowd of a theatre for its exercise. But 
the passions of love, ambition, jealousy — the conflict between 
opposing emotions of affection and duty — expressed in the 
breast of an individual, are not special — they are universal. 
And before a dramatic audience the safety of a state is merged 
or ignored in the superior interest felt in the personation of 
some emotion more ardent than any state interest, and only 
more ardent because universal among mankind in all states 
and all times. If the domestic interest be the strongest of 
which the drama is capable, it is because it is the interest in 
which the largest number of human breasts can concur, and in 
which the poet who creates it can most escape from particulars 
into generals. In the emancipation of Switzerland from the 
Austrian yoke, history can excite our interest in the question 
whether William Tell ever existed, and in showing the large 
array of presumptive evidence against the popular story of his 
shooting the apple placed on his son's head. But in the 
drama William Tell is the personator of the Swiss liberties ; 
and the story of the apple, in exciting the domestic interest of 
the relationship between father and son, is that very portion 
of history which the dramatic artist will the most religiously 
conserve, obtaining therein one incalculable advantage for his 
effect, viz., that it is not his own invention, and therefore of 
disputable probability ; but, whether fable or truth in the eyes 
of the historical critic, so popularly received and acknowledged 
as a truth that the audience are prepared to enter into the 
emotions of the father and the peril of the son. 

It is, then, not in the invention of a story, nor in the creation 
of imaginary characters, that a dramatist proves his originality 
as an artist, but in the adaptation of a story found elsewhere 
to a dramatic purpose ; and in the fidelity, not to historical 
detail, but to psychological and metaphysical truth, with which 



324 CERTAIiJf PEINCIPLES OF ART 

he reconciles the motives and conduct of the charactei's he se- 
lects from history to the situations in which they are placed, 
so as to elicit for them, under all that is peculiar to their na- 
ture or their fates, the necessary degree of sympathy from 
emotions of which the generality of mankind are susceptible. 

But to the narrator of fiction — to the story-teller — the in- 
vention of fable and of imaginary character is obviously among 
the legitimate conditions of his art ; and a fable purely origin- 
al has in him a meiit which it does not possess in the tragic or 
comic poet. 

On the other hand, the skillful mechanism of plot, though 
not without considerable value in the art of narrative, is much 
less requisite in the Novelist than in the Dramatist. Many of 
the greatest prose fictions are independent of plot altogether. 
It is only by straining the Avord to a meaning foreign to the 
sense it generally conveys that we can recognize a plot in "Don 
Quixote," and scarcely any torture of the word can make a 
plot out of "Gil Bias." It is for this reason that the novel ad- 
mits of what the drama never should admit, viz., the operation 
o^ accident in the conduct of the story: the villain, instead of 
coming to a tragic close through the inevitable sequences of 
the fate he has provoked, may be carried ofi", at the convenient 
time, by a stroke of apoplexy, or be run over by a railway train. 
Nevertheless, in artistic narrative, accident, where it aifects a 
denouement, should be very sparingly employed. Readers, as 
well as critics, feel it to be a blot in the story of "Rob Roy" 
when the elder brothers of Rashleigh Osbaldistone are killed 
ofiT by natural causes unforeseen and unprepared for in the 
previous train of events narrated, in order to throw Rashleigh 
into a position which the author found convenient for his ulti- 
mate purpose. 

A novel of high aim requires, of course, delineation of chai*- 
acter, and with more patient minuteness than the drama ; and 
some novels live, indeed, solely through the delineation of char- 
acter ; whereas there are some tragedies in which the charac- 
ters, when stripped of theatrical costume, are very trivial, while, 
despite the poverty of character, the tragedies themselves are 
immortal, partly from the skill of the plot, partly from the pas- 
sion which is wrought out of the situations, and principally, 
perhaps, from the beauty of foi-m — the strength and harmony 
of the verse. Thus French critics of eminence have accorded 



IN WORKS OP IMAGINATION. 325 

to Racine, as a tragic poet, a rank equal to that of Corneille, 
although acknowledging the immense superiority of the latter 
in the treatment and conception of tragic character. The trag- 
ic drama imperatively requires passion — the comic drama hu- 
mor or wit ; but a novel may be a very fine one without humor, 
passion, or wit — it may be made great in its way (though that 
way is not the very highest one) by delicacy of sentiment, in- 
terest of story, playfulness of fancy, or even by the level tenor 
of every-day life, not coarsely imitated, but pleasingly idealized. 
Still mystery is one of the most popular and efiective sources 
of interest in a jDrose narrative, and sometimes the unraveling 
of it constitutes the entire plot. Every one can remember the 
thrill with which he first sought to fathom the dark secret in 
"Caleb Williams" or "The Ghost-Seer." Even in the comic 
novel, the great founder of that structure of art has obtained 
praise for perfection of plot almost solely from the skill with 
which Tom Jones's parentage is kept concealed ; the terror, to- 
ward the end, when the hero seems to have become involved 
in one of the crimes from which the human mind most revolts, 
and the pleased surprise with which that terror is relieved by 
the final and unexpected discovery of his birth, with all the 
sense of the many fine strokes of satire in the commencement 
of the tale, which are not made clear to us till the close. 

To prose fiction there must always be conceded an immense 
variety in the modes of treatment — a bold license of loose ca- 
pricious adaptation of infinite materials to some harmonious 
unity of interest, which even the most liberal construction of 
dramatic license can not aftbrd to the drama. We need no 
lengthened examination of this fact ; we perceive at once that 
any story can be told, but comparatively very few stories can 
be dramatized ; and hence some of the best novels in the world 
can not be put upon the stage, while some, that have very 
little merit as novels, have furnished subject-matter for the 
greatest plays in the modern world. The interest in a drama 
must be consecutive, sustained, progressive — it allows of no 
longueurs. But the interest of a novel may be very gentle, 
very irregular — may interpose long conversations in the very 
midst of action — always provided, however, as I have before 
said, that they bear upon the ulterior idea for which the action 
is invented. Thus Ave have in "Wilhelm Meister" long con- 
versations on art or philosophy just where we want most to 



326 CEETAIN PRINCIPLES OF ART 

get on with the story ; yet, without those conversations, the 
story would not have been worth the telling, and its object 
could not, indeed, be comprehended — its object being the ac- 
complishment of a human mind in the very subjects on which 
the conversations turn. So, in many of the most animated tales 
of Sir Walter Scott, the story pauses for the sake of some his- 
torical disquisition necessary to make us understand the alter- 
ed situations of the imagined characters. I need not say that 
all such delays to the action would be inadmissible in the dra- 
ma. Hence an intelligent criticism must always allow a lati- 
tude to artistic prose fiction which it does not accord to the 
dramatic, nor indeed to any other department of imaginative 
representation of life and character. I often see in our Re- 
views a charge against some novel that this or that is " a de- 
fect of art," which is, when examined, really a beauty in art — 
or a positive necessity which that department of art could not 
avoid — simply because the Reviewer has been applying to the 
novel rules drawn from the drama, and not only inapplicable, 
but adverse to the principles which regulate the freedom of 
the novel. Now, in reality, where genius is present, art can 
not be absent. Unquestionably genius may make many inci- 
dental mistakes in art, but if it compose a work of genius, that 
work must be a work of art on the whole ; for just as virtue 
consists in a voluntary obedience to moral law, so genius con- 
sists in a voluntary obedience to artistic law. And the free- 
dom of either is this, that the law is pleasing to it — has become 
its second nature. Both human virtue and human genius must 
err from time to time ; but any pi'olonged disdain, or any vio- 
lent rupture, of the law by which it exists, would be death to 
either. There is this difference to the advantage of virtue (for, 
happily, virtue is necessary to all men, and genius is but the 
gift of few), that we can lay down rules by the observance of 
which any one can become a virtuous man, but Ave can lay 
down no rules by which any one can become a man of genius. 
No technical rules can enable a student to become a great 
dramatist or a great novelist, but there is in art an inherent dis- 
tinction between broad general principles and technical rules. 
In all genuine art there is a sympathetic, affectionate, and often 
quite unconscious adherence to certain general principles. The 
recognition of these principles is obtained through the philoso- 
phy of criticism ; first, by a wide and patient observation of 



IN WORKS OF IMAGINATION. 327 

masterpieces of art, which are to criticism what evidences of 
fact are to science ; and, next, by the metaphysical deduction 
from those facts of the principles which their concurrence 
serves to establish. By the putting forth of these principles 
we can not make bad writers good, nor mediocre writers great, 
but we may enable the common reader to judge with more 
correctness of the real quality of merit, or the real cause of de- 
fect in the writers he peruses ; and by directing and elevating 
his taste, rectify and raise the general standard of literature. 
We may do more than that — we may much facilitate the self- 
tuition that all genius has to undergo before it attains to its 
full development, in the harmony between its freedom and 
those elements of truth and beauty which constitute the law. 
As to mere technical rules, each great artist makes them for 
himself; he does not despise technical rules, but he will not 
servilely borrow them from other artists ; he forms his own. 
They are the by-laws which his acquaintance with his special 
powers lays down as best adapted to their exercise and their 
sphere. Apelles is said to have made it a by-law to himself 
to use only four colors in painting : probably Apelles found 
his advantage in that restraint, or he would not have imposed 
it on his pallet ; but if Zeuxis found that he, Zeuxis, painted 
better by using a dozen colors than by confining himself to 
four, he would have used a dozen, or he would not have been 
Zeuxis. 

On careful and thoughtful examination, we shall find that 
neither in narrative nor dramatic fiction do great writers dif- 
fer on the principles of art in the w^orks which posterity ac- 
cepts from them as gi*eat, whereas they all difier more or less 
in technical rules. There is no gi-eat poetic artist, whether in 
Epic, Drama, or Romance, who, in his best works, ever repre- 
sents a literal truth rather than the idealized image of a truth 
— who ever condescends to servile imitations of Nature — who 
ever prefers the selection of particulars, in the delineation of 
character or the conception of fable, to the expression of gen- 
erals — who does not aim at large types of mankind rather than 
the portraiture of contemporaries — or, at least, wherever he 
may have been led to reject these principles, it will be in per- 
formances, or parts of performances, that are allowed to be be- 
neath him. But merely technical rules are no sooner laid 
down by the critics of one ago, than they are scornfully vio- 



328 CEKTAIN PRINCIPLES OF AET 

lated by some triumphant genius in the next. Technical rules 
have their value for the artist who employs them, and who 
usually invents and does not borrow them. Those that he im- 
poses on himself he seldom communicates to others. They 
are his secret — they spring from his peculiarities of taste ; and 
it is the adherence to those rules which constitutes what we 
sometimes call his style, but more properly his manner. It is 
by such rules, imposed on himself, that Pope forms his peculiar 
caesura, and mostly closes his sense at the end of a couplet. 
When this form of verse becomes trite and hackneyed, up 
rises some other poet, who forms by-laws for himself perhaps 
quite the reverse. All that we should then ask of him is suc- 
cess : if his by-laws enable him to make as good a verse as 
Pope's in another way, we should be satisfied ; if not, not. 
One main use in technical rules to an author, if imposed on 
himself, or freely assented to by himself, is this — the interposi- 
tion of some wholesome impediment to the overfacility which 
otherwise every writer acquires by practice ; and as this over- 
faciUty is naturally more apt to be contracted in prose than in 
verse, and in the looseness or length of the novel or romance 
than in any other more terse and systematic form of imagina- 
tive fiction, so I think it a wise precaution in every prolific 
novelist to seek rather to multiply than emancipate himself 
from the wholesome restraints of rules, provided always that 
such rules are the natural growth of his own mind, and con- 
firmed by his own experience of their good eifect on his pro- 
ductions. For if Art be not the imitator of Nature, it is still 
less the copyist of Art. Its base is in the study of Nature — 
not to imitate, but first to select, and then to combine, from 
Nature those materials into which the artist can breathe his 
own vivifying idea ; and as the base of Art is in the study of 
Nature, so its polish and ornament must be sought by every 
artist in the study of those images which the artists before him 
have already selected, combined, and vivified ; not, in such 
study, to reproduce a whole that represents another man's 
mind, and can no more be born again than can the man who 
created it, but again to select, to separate, to recorabine — to go 
through the same process in the contemplation of Art which 
he employed in the contemplation of Nature; profiting by all 
details, but grouping them anew by his own mode of general- 
ization, and only availing himself of the minds of others for 



IN WOEKS OF IMAGINATION. 329 

the purpose of rendering more full and complete the realiza' 
tion of that idea of truth or beauty which has its conception in 
his own mind. For that can be neither a work of art (in the 
aesthetic sense of the word) nor a work of genius, in any sense 
of the word, which does not do a something that, as a whole, 
has never been done before ; Avhich no other living man could 
have done ; and which never, to the end of time, can be done 
again, no matter how immeasurably better may be the other 
things which other men may do. " Ivanhoe" and " Childe 
Harold" were produced but the other day, yet already it has 
become as impossible to reproduce an "Ivanhoe" or a " Childe 
Harold" as to reproduce an " Iliad." A better historical ro- 
mance than " Ivanhoe," or a better contemplative poem than 
" Childe Harold," may be written some day or other, but, in 
order to be better, it must be totally different. The more a 
writer is imitated, the less he can be reproduced. No one of 
our poets has been so imitated as Pope, not because he is our 
greatest or our most fascinating poet, but because he is the 
one most easily imitated by a good versifier. But is tliere a 
second Pope, or will there be a second Pope, if our language 
last ten thousand years longer ? 



ESSAY XXIV. 

I^nstlmmnns lUptatinii, 

Posthumous reputation ! who can honestly say that posthu- 
mous reputation, in one sense of the phrase, is of no value in 
his eyes ? If it were only heroes and poets, those arch-cravers 
of renown, who cared what Avere said of them after death, our 
village burial-grounds would lack their tombstones. A cer- 
tain desire for posthumous reputation is so general that we 
might fairly call it universal. But I shall attempt to show 
that, being thus universal, it springs from sources which are 
common in human breasts, and not from that hunger for ap- 
plause which is the exceptional characteristic of the candidates 
for Fame. It grows out of the natural affections or the moral 
sentiment rather than the reasonings of intellectual ambition. 

Be a man how obscure soever — as free from the desire of 
fame as devoid of the capacities to achieve it — still the thought 
of sudden and entire forgetfulness would be a sharp pang to 
his human heart. He does not take leave of the earth without 
the yearning hope to retain a cherished place in the love or es- 
teem of some survivors, after his remains have been removed 
into the coffin and thrust out of sight into the grave. The 
last " Fa?e" were indeed a dreary word without the softening 
adjuration ^^Sis memor »^6^," Even criminals themselves, in 
that confusion of reasoning which appears inseparable from 
crime, reconciled, in death as in life, to names scorned by the 
honest (who to them, indeed, form a strange and foreign race), 
still hope for posthumous reputation among their comrades for 
qualities which criminals esteem. 

The pirates in Byron's poem are not content to sink, with- 
out such honors as pirates afford, into the ocean that " shrouds 
and sepulchres their dead." 

"Ours" — they exclaim, in the spirit of Scandinavian vi- 
kinsfs — 



332 POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION. 

"Ours the brief epitaph in danger's day, 
When those who win at length divide the prey, 
And cry — remembrance saddening o'er each brow — 
* How had the brave who fell exulted now !' " 

But if the bad can not banish a desire to live after death in the 
affection even of the bad, where is the good man who, trained 
throughout hfe to value honor, can turn cynic on his death-bed 
and say, " Let me in life enjoy the profitable credit for hon- 
esty, and I care not if, after death, my name be held that of a 
knave ?" 

All of us, then, however humble, so far covet posthumous 
reputation that Ave would fain be spoken and thought of with 
affection and esteem by those whose opinions we have prized, 
even w^hen we are beyond the sound of their voices and the 
clasp of their hands. Such reputation may be (as with most 
of us it is) but a brief deferment of oblivion — the suspense of 
a year, a month, a day, before the final cancel and effacement 
of our footprint on the sands of Time. But S07ne kindly rem- 
iniscence in some human hearts man intuitively yearns to be- 
queath, and the hope of it comforts him as he turns his face to 
the wall to die. 

But if this be a desire common to the great mass of our spe- 
cies, it must evidently rise out of the affections common to all 
— it is a desire for love, not a thirst for glory. This is not 
Avhat is usually meant and understood by the phrase of post- 
humous reputation ; it is not the renown accorded to the ex- 
ceptional and rare intelligences which soar above the level of 
mankind. And here we approach a subject of no uninterest- 
ing speculation, viz., the distinction between that love for post- 
humous though brief repute which emanates from the affec- 
tions and the moral sentiment, and that greed of posthumous 
and lasting renown which has been considered the craving, not 
of the heart nor of the moral sentiment, but rather of the in- 
tellect, and therefore limited to those who have the skill and 
the strength to vie for the palm awarded to the victor only 
when his chariot wheels halt and the race is done. Competi- 
tors are many ; victors, alas ! are few. Out of all the myriads 
who have tenanted our earth, the number even of eminent in- 
tellects which retain place in its archives is startlingly small. 
The vast democracy of the dead are represented by an oli- 
garchy to which that of Venice was liberal. Although sue- 



POSTHUMOUS KEPUTATIOX. 333 

cessive races of laborious compilers and reverential antiquari- 
ans do their utmost to preserve in dusty shelves the bones and 
fossils of every specimen of man which has left a vestige of its 
being in the layers and strata of the past, it were as well, to a 
lover of fame, to sleep in his grave ignored, as to be dishumed, 
a forlorn fragment of what he once was, and catalogued alpha- 
betically in a Biographical Dictionary, 

Let us suppose some youthful poet whose heart is now beat- 
ing loud with " the immense desire of praise," to whom his 
guardian angel lifts the veil of Futurity, and saith, "Thy name 
shall be preserved from oblivion. Lo ! its place in yon com- 
pendium of embalmed celebrities, which scliolars shall compile 
five centuries after thy decease. Read and exult !" The poet 
(his name be Jones) reads as follows under the letter J. : 

" JoxES, David, a British author in the reign of Victoria I. 
Wrote many poems much esteemed by his contemporaries, 
some few fragments of which have been collected in the re- 
cent 'Anthology' of his learned and ingenious countryman, 
Professor Morgan Apreece ; and, though characterized by the 
faults prevalent in his period, are not without elegance and 
fancy. Died at Caermarthen A.D. 1892." 

Such would be a very honorable mention — moi'e than is said 
in a Biographical Dictionary of many a bard, famous in his 
day ; and yet what poet would not as willingly be left calm in 
" God's Acre," without any mention at all ? Saith Sir Thomas 
Browne, in his quaint sublimity of style, "To be read by bare 
inscriptions, like many in Griiter — to hope for eternity by enig- 
matical epithets or first letters of our names — to be studied by 
antiquarians who we were, and have new names given us like 
many of the mummies, are cold consolation unto the students 
of perpetuity, even by everlasting languages."* 

Yet, alas ! how few of us can hope for the perpetuity even 
of an inscription " like those in Griiter !" Nor is this all ; out 
of those few to whom universal assent and favoring circum- 
stance have secured high place in the motley museum of 
Fame, and lengthened account in the dreary catalogue of 
names, how very few there are whose renown would be a 
thing of envy to the pure and lofty ambition of heroic youth! 
How few in whom the intellectual eminence conceded to them 
is not accomj)anied by such alleged infirmities and vices of 
* "Urn Burial." 



334 POSTHUMOUS EEPUTATION. 

character as only allow our admiration of the dead by com- 
pelling an indulgence which we could scarcely give, even to 
the dearest of our friends if living ! 

I am not sure whether any student of perpetuity, while the 
white of his robe is still without a weather-stain, and his first 
step lightly bounds up the steej) 

'■'Where Fame's proud temple shines afar," 

would be contented to leave behind him the renown of a Ba- 
con's wisdom, coupled with those doubts of sincerity, manli- 
ness, gratitude, and honor, which Bacon's generous advocates 
have so ingeniously striven to clear away. On such points, 
who would not rather be unknown to posterity than need an 
advocate before its bar ? 

It is not the bent of ray philosophy to disparage illustrious 
names. I am myself predisposed rather too implicitly to re- 
vere than too harshly to criticise the statues set up in Wal- 
halla. I do not call Alexander the Great "the Macedonian 
madman" — I do not fix my eyes upon all the stains that his- 
torians discover in the toga of Julius Csesar, nor peer through 
the leaves of his laurel wreath to detect only the bald places 
which the coronal hides. I gaze with no Cavalier's abhor- 
rence on the rugged majesty of our English Cromwell. No 
three in the list of the famous are perhaps more sure than 
these three of renown unwasted by the ages ; yet, seeing all 
that has been said, can be said, and will be said against all 
three, and upon those attributes of character which I have 
been taught to consider more estimable than intellectual ability 
and power, I know not whether, after death, I would not rather 
have nothing said about me. It would give me no satisfaction 
to think that I 

"Leave a name at which the world grew pale, 
To point a moral or adorn a tale." 

There is something in renown of that kind which is, after all, 
little better than a continuity of the ignorant gossip and un- 
civil slander which have so often made the great sadly wish 
that they were obscure. When the poet, who had achieved 
a fame more generally acknowledged throughoiat Europe than 
has perhaps been accorded to any poet in his own lifetime 
since the days of Petrarch, was on his death-bed, he did not 
exclaim, " I demand glory !" but sighed, " I implore peace !" 



POSTHUMOUS KEPUTATION. 335 

Happy indeed the poet of whom, like Orpheus, nothing is 
known but an immortal name ! Happy next, perhaps, the 
poet of whom, like Homer, nothing is known but the immor- 
tal works. The more the merely human part of the poet re- 
mains a mystery, the more willing is the reverence given to 
his divine mission. He may say with the prophet, 

"Mon empire est detruit si rhomme est reconnu." 

Some kinds of posthumous renown there are indeed which the 
purest coveters of fame might envy. But such kinds of re- 
nown are the rarest ; nor are they those which most fascinate 
the emulous eyes of youth by the pomps of intellectual splen- 
doi'. For perhaps a certain roughness of surface is necessary 
to the emission of that light which most strikes the remote be- 
holder, as it is said the moon would be invisible to us Avere its 
surface even. And the renowns of which I now speak attract 
less by the glare of genius than by the just proportions of 
moral beauty, which the genius of others hallowing and rever- 
ing them (as genius ever hallows and reveres all images of 
moral beauty), preserves distinct and clear by the tribute of 
its own rays. 

What English gentleman would not rejoice to bequeath a 
name like that of Sir Philip Sidney ? what French chevalier 
like that of Bayai'd? what cosmopolitan philanthropist like 
that of Howard ? what republican patriot like that of Wash- 
ington ? what holy priest like that of Carlo Borromeo ? But 
in all these serene and beautiful renowns, the intellectual at- 
tributes, though not inconsiderable, are slight in comparison 
with the moral. The admiring genius of others, however, in- 
vests them with the intellectual glory which genius alone can 
bestow. They are of those whom poets do not imitate, but 
whom poets exalt and sanctify. Yet in the moral attributes 
Avhich secure their fame they must have been approached by 
many of their contemporaries never heard of. For, though in 
intellect a man may so lift himself above his class, his land, his 
age, that he may be said to tower alone as well as aloft, yet 
the moral part of him must, almost always, draw the chief sup- 
ply of its nutriment from the surrounding atmosphere. Where 
we recognize in any one an image of moral elevation, which 
seems to us at the first glance unique and transcendent, I be- 
lieve that, on a careful examination, we shall find that among 



336 POSTHUMOUS KEPUTATION. 

his coevals, oi' in the very nature of his times, those qualities 
which furnish forth their archetype in him were rife and prev- 
alent. And if, in him, they have a more conspicuous and 
striking embodiment, it will be partly from circumstances, 
whether of birth, fortune, or laboring event, which first served 
to buoy up his merit to the surface of opinion, and then bear 
it onward in strong tide to the shore of fame ; and partly from 
that force of will which is often neither a moral nor an intel- 
lectual property, but rather a result of physical energy and 
constitutional hardihood of nerve. 

Again, some men have found in a grateful posterity the 
guardians of an enviable renown, less by any remarkable ex- 
cellence of their own than by the wrongs they have suffered in 
a cause which is endeared to the interests of mankind. Thus 
William Lord Russell and Algernon Sidney are hallowed to 
English freemen so long as our history shall last. But if they 
had not died on the scaffold, it may be reasonably doubted 
whether they could still live in fame. 

Seeing, then, that the prizes drawn from the funeral urn are 
so few, and among the few, so very few that are Avorth more 
than a blank, it is not surprising that the desire of posthumous 
reputation, though in itself universal, should rather contract 
into a yearning for affection or a regard for character, bounded 
to the memory of our own generation or the next, than ex- 
pand into the grandiose conceit of ever-enduring fame. Nor 
do I believe that with those by whom such fame is won is the 
prophetic hope of it a prevalent motive power after the dreamy 
season of early youth. At the dawn of life, in our school and 
college days, we do but dimly see the line between life and 
death — life seems so distinct and so long — death seems so vague 
and so fai'. Then, when we think of fame, we scarce discern 
the difference between the living and the dead. Then, our 
enthusiasm is for ideals, and our emulation is to vie with the 
types that express them. It is less living men we would emu- 
late than immaterial names. In the martial sports of our play- 
ground we identify ourselves, not with a Raglan or a Gortscha- 
koff, but with a Hector or Achilles. Who shall tell us that 
Hector and Achilles never lived ? to us, while in boyhood, they 
are living still, nay, among the most potent and vital of living 
men. We know not then what we could not do ; we fancy 
we coidd do all things were we but grown-up men. We ig- 



POSTHUMOUS EEPUTATION. 337 

nove the grave. As we live familiarly with the ancients, so we 
associate our own life with posterity. Is our first copy of 
verse on the Ruins of Pu^stum — is our first theme to the text 
'■'•Dulce et decorum est pro patrid mori''^ — uncomraended by 
our tasteless master, unadmired by our envious class, we have 
an undefined consolatory idea that posterity will do us justice. 
And posterity to us seems a next-door neighbor, with whom 
»ve shall shake hands, and from whom we shall bear polite 
jompliments — not when we are dead, but when we are grown 
Ip. "We are too full of life to comprehend that there is any 
Jeath except for those old folks who can not appreciate us. 
Bright and illustrious illusions ! Who can blame, who laugh 
it the boy, who not admire and commend him, for that desire 
of a fame outlasting the Pyramids by which he insensibly learns 
to live in a life beyond the present, and nourish dreams of a 
good unattainable by the senses ? But when a man has ar- 
rived at the maturity of his reason, and his sight has grown 
sufficiently disciplined to recognize the boundaries of human 
life — when he has insensibly taught his ear to detect the hol- 
low blare of those wind-instruments of fame which once stir- 
red his heart like the fife of Calliope descending from heaven 
to blend the names of men with those of the Uranides, the 
greed of posthumous renown passes away with the other wild 
longings of his youth. If he has not already achieved celeb- 
rity even among his own race, his sobered judgment reveals to 
him the slender chance of celebrity among the race which fol- 
lows; living claimants are loud enough to absorb its heed. If 
he has achieved celebrity, then his post is marked out in the 
Present. He has his labors, his cares, his duties for the day. 
He can not pause to dream Avhat may be said of him in a mor- 
row that he will not greet. If really and substantially famous^ 
his egotism is gone. He is moving with and for multitudes 
and his age ; and what he writes, what he does, potential in 
his own time, must indeed have its influence over the times 
that follow, but often mediately, indirectly, and as undistin- 
guishable from the influence of minds that blend their light 
with his own as one star-beam is from another. And, for the 
most part, men thus actively engaged in the work which com- 
mands the gaze of contemporaries, think as little of the fame 
which that work may or may not accord among distant races 
to the six or seven letters which syllable their names, as thinks 

P 



338 POSTHUMOUS KEPUTATION. 

a star whose radiance reaches us of what poets may hymn to 
its honor, or astrologers assign to its eiFect, under the name by 
which we denote the star, whether we call it Jupiter or Saturn. 

Certainly we may presume that of all aspirants to posthu- 
mous renown, poets are the most ardent and the most perse- 
vering — justly so; for of all kinds of intellectual merit, the po- 
et's is that which contemporaries may the most fail to recog- 
nize. And yet among poets since the Christian era (I shall 
touch later on poets of the heathen time), we can not, I think, 
discover any great anxiety for posthumous renown in those 
who lived long enough to fulfill their mission, and have re- 
ceived from posterity a homage that would have sanctioned 
their most confident appeal to a future generation. I say, 
those who lived long enough to fulfill their mission ; and I 
mean that when their mission was fulfilled — their great works 
done — their care for the opinion of posterity seems to have been 
any thing but restless and overeager. No doubt, in youth, 
the longing for posthumous renown in them was strong. In 
youth, that yearning might dictate to Milton the first concep- 
tion of some great epic which the world would not willingly 
let die. But when, after the toils and sorrows of his hard ca- 
reer, the old man returned to the dream of his young ambi- 
tion, the joy of his divine task seems to have been little com- 
mingled with vain forethought of the praise it might receive 
from men. He himself was so grand a man, and so fully con- 
scious of his own grandeur, that, however it may wound our 
vanity to own it, I do not think he cared very sensitively what 
we light readers or scholastic critics might say of him for or 
against. The audience which he hoped to find, " fit, though few," 
was, according to the guess of one of his shrewdest commenta- 
tors, confined much to the sect of his own Puritan brethren. 

Goethe compares the joy of the poet to the joy of the bird; 
the bird sings because it is its nature to sing, not because it is 
to be praised for singing. But Milton's joy was high beyond 
the bird's — it was the joy of a sublime human soul — the joy 
of lifting himself above man's judgment, as a great soul ever 
seeks to do — high above the evil days — the dangers and the 
darkness with which he was encompassed round. 

True, he enjoins himself not 

' ' Sometimes to forget 
Those other two, equaled with me in fate 



POSTUUMOUS KEPUTATION. 339^ 

(So were I equaled with them in renown), 
Blind Thamyris and blind Maeonides." 

But the brief sigh for renown, less haughtily than modestly 
breathed forth in the parenthetical line, soon swells into the 
loftier prayer with which he closes his complaint of the loss 
of external day — 

"So much the rather thou, celestial light. 
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers 
Irradiate!" 

Poor and trivial, among sublimer consolations, would have 
been even the assured foreknowledge of that rank among the 
worldly subjects of mortal kings which Addison's elegant ci'it- 
icism established for Burnet's blind schoolmaster — to him 
who, alone among poets, had the privilege to say, 
"Into the heaven of heavens I have presumed, 
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air." 

Again, passages in Shakspeai'e's Sonnets, attesting Shak- 
speare's sensitive pain in the thought of his equivocal w^orldly 
status and vocation, may, not illogically, be held to imply a 
correspondent desire for the glory to which he may have known 
that his genius was the rightful heir. Indeed, if in his Son- 
nets he may be fairly presumed to speak in his own person 
(as I think the probable and natural supposition), and not, as 
some contend, inventing imaginary sentiments for imaginary 
persons in imaginary situations, he indulges in an exulting 
vaunt of the immortality his young muse had already secured — 
"Not marble, not the gilded monuments 
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme. " 

But in his later days, when he attained to such reputation as 
the reigns of Elizabeth and James would accord to a play- 
writer — and, luckier than most play writers, and of course more 
prudent (for genius so complete as his is always eminently 
prudent, eminently practical), had saved or gained the means 
which allowed him to retire to New Place m Stratford — a 
gentleman, taking rank not with Homer and Sophocles, but 
with county squires — with a Master Slender, or even with a 
Justice Shallow — he certainly appears to have given himself 
no trouble about preparing his works for us — that is, for pos- 
terity. He left them to take their chance with a carelessness 
that startles commonplace critics. "Why so careless ? It star- 
tles me to think that critics can ask why. To an intellect so 



340 POSTHUMOUS KEPUTATION. 

consummate as Shakspeare's, the thought of auother -world be- 
yond the criticism of this world must have been very familiar; 
that it teas familiar might, I think, be made clearly manifest 
by reference to the many passages and sentences in which, 
without dramatic necessity, and not always with dramatic fit- 
ness and effect, the great psychologist utters his own cherish- 
ed thoughts through the lips of his imaginary creations. 

ISTow, without straining too far lines in the Sonnets which 
appear to intimate his own mournful sense of humiliation in 
his calling of player, the age itself so austerely refused to rec- 
ognize the stage as a school of morals or an ally of religion, 
that possibly Shakspeare, who so solemnly attests his Christian 
faith in the Will written a year before his death, might have 
had some humble doubts whether his mighty genius had con- 
ferred those vast benefits on mankind which are now I'ecog- 
nized in the wisdom of its genial and comprehensive humani- 
ty. And thus, silent as to the works of his mind, he speaks 
but of the deathless nature of his soul — " I commend my soul 
into the hands of God my Creator, hoping, and assuredly, 
through the only merits of Jesus Christ my Savior, to be made 
partaker of life everlasting, and my body to the earth whereof 
it is made." 

Campbell has thought that Shakspeare made a secret and 
touching reference to his retirement from his own magic art 
in the work which is held by so many critics, including De 
Quincey, to have been the last (viz., "The Tempest"), and 
which Dyce esteems the most elaborately finished of all his 
plays; and there is so much in the sympathy by which one 
great poet often divines the interior jDarabolic significations 
veiled in the verse of another, that the opinion of Campbell 
has here an authority which will not be lightly set aside by 
thoughtful critics. Certainly, if Shakspeare were at that time 
meditating retirement from the practice of his art, he could 
scarcely have been more felicitously " inspired to typify him- 
self" than in Prospero's farewell to the enchanted isl<3 — 

"Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves," etc. 

It is true that it can not be clearly proved, any more than 
as yet it has been satisfactorily disproved, that the " Tempest," 
performed before James in 1611, five years previous to Shak- 
speare's decease, really was the last drama which Shakspeare 



POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION. 341 

wrote ; but if it were ascertained that, in his retirement at 
Stratford, he did, during those five intervening years, busy 
himself on some other play,* it would not confute the assump- 
tion that he had meant to typify himself in that farewell, and, 
at the time, had intended to write plays no more. Descartes 
at one moment seriously resolved to withdraw from philosoph- 
ical pursuits, and yet revoked his resolution. 

Be this as it may, one thing is certain, whether he did or 
did not write plays subsequent to the date of the "Tempest," 
he took no pains to secure their transmission to posterity, and 
evinced so little care even to distinguish those he had com- 
posed from other stock pieces in his theatre, that it is only 
comparatively within a recent period that the many inferior 
plays assigned to his pen have been rejected from the list of 
his dramas; while one of the grandest of all his works, "Lear," 
is spoken of by Tate as " an obscure piece recommended to 
him by a friend." 

My own experience of life, so far as it has extended, con- 
firms the general views I have here taken with regard to the 
thirst for posthumous renown. 

I have seldom known a very young man of first-rate genius 
in whom that thirst was not keen, and still more seldom any 
man of first-rate genius who, after middle life, was much tor- 
mented by it, more especially if he had already achieved con- 
temporaneous fame, and felt how little of genuine and iinal- 
loyed delight it bestows, even while its plaudits fall upon liv- 
ing ears. 

But, on the other hand, I daily meet with mediocre men, 
more especially mediocre poets, to whom the vision of a fame 
beyond the grave is a habitual hallucination. 

And this last observation leads me to reflect on the strange 
deficiency of all clear understanding as to his degree of merit, 
which is almost peculiar to the Avriter of verse. 

In most other departments of intellectual industry and skill, 
a man soon acquires a tolerably accurate idea whether what 
he is doing be good, bad, or indifferent ; but the manufacturer 
of verse seems wholly unable to estimate the quality of the 
fabric he weaves, or perceive whether the designs he stamps 
or embroiders on it are really beauteous and original forms, or 

* Dyce says, "I suspect that before 1613 he (Shakspeare) had entirely 
abandoned dramatic composition." 



342 POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION. 

trite copies and graceless patterns. No matter how consum- 
mate his intelligence in other domains of mind, yet he may 
rank with the most stolid and purblind of self-deceivers when 
he has to pass judgment on his own rhymes. 

Frederick the Great is certainly Fritz the Little when he 
abandons the tented field for the Pierian grot. Richelieu nev- 
er errs in his conceptions of the powers at his command ex- 
cept when he plunges into rhyme — never, in his vainest mo- 
ments, overrates his strength against courts, and nobles, and 
foreign armies, but is wholly unable to comprehend that he is 
not a match for Corneille in the composition of a tragedy. 

Nay, what is still more strange, poets the most confessedly 
illustrious have not always been able to judge so well as the 
most commonplace and prosaic of their readers the relative 
merits of their own performances. Milton is said to have pre- 
ferred his " Paradise Regained" to his " Paradise Lost ;" By- 
ron to have estimated his imitations of Pope at a higher value 
than his " Childe Harold" or his " Siege of Corinth ;" Camp- 
bell felt for " Theodric" a more complacent afiection than he 
bestowed on " Gertrude of Wyoming ;" and even Goethe, who 
judged his own compositions with a cooler and more candid 
survey than any other poet ever bestowed on the beloved chil- 
dren of his brain, can neither by artistic critics nor popular 
readers be thought justified in preferring the Second Part of 
" Faust" to the First. 

Possibly a main cause of this ofiuscation of intelligence in 
verse-writers may be found in the delight which the composi- 
tion of verse gives to the author. And Richelieu explained 
why he, so acute in assessing his power for governing king- 
doms, was so dull in comprehending his abilities for the con- 
struction of rhyme, in the answer he once gave to Desmarets, 
to whom he said, wearily, " In this troubled life of mine, Avhat 
do you think constitutes my chief pleasure ?" Desmarets, 
courtier-like, replied, " The thought that you are making the 
happiness of France." '■''Pas de tout!" answered Richelieu, 
'•'■ c'est dfaire les versP 

Now the mere delight of making verse was perhaps quite as 
great in Richelieu as in Corneille — is as great in the school- 
boy poetaster as in the loftiest bard ; and in the loftiest bard 
not less, possibly even more, when he is rapidly and painlessly 
writing down to his lowest level, than when piling thought on 



POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION". 343 

thought, with carefully selected marbles of expression, up to 
his highest height. If it be truly reported of Virgil that he 
spent the morning in pouring forth his verses, and the evening 
in correcting, condensing, abridging, polishing the verses thus 
composed, the probability is that the morning's task was one 
of delight, and the evening's task one of pain. But without 
the evening's task, possibly the morning's task might not have 
secured to posterity the 3Ionstncm sine Icibe which Scaliger 
has declared Virgil to be. 

The verse-maker's j^leasure in his verse intoxicates him. It 
is natural that he should think that what so pleased him to 
write, it ought to please others to read. If it do not please 
them, it is the bad taste of the day ; it is the malice of coteries 
— the ignorance of critics. Posterity will do him justice. And 
thus the veriest poetaster takes refuge in the thought of pos- 
terity, with as complacent an assurance as could possibly cheer 
the vision of the loftiest poet. Indeed, if the loftiest poet had 
been sensible of pain as well as pleasure in his composition, his 
pain would have made him sensible of his faults ; whereas the 
poetaster, in composing, feels only the unalloyed satisfaction 
of belief in his merits. And thus, having cited one traditional 
anecdote of the painstaking Virgil, I may add another, viz., 
that, far from deeming himself J/o??s?;7<;n sine labe^ he consid- 
ered his "^neid" not sufficiently corrected and perfected for 
the eye of posterity, and desired that it should be destroyed. 

I think, then, that a poet of some thought and modesty will 
hesitate before he admit as a genuine, solid, well-founded con- 
solation for any present disparagement to which he may con- 
ceive his genius unjustly subjected, that belief in future admi- 
ration which he must share in common with the most ordinary 
mortals who ever composed a hemistich. He can never feel 
quite sure that his faith in postei'ity is a sound one. Granted 
that he have an internal conviction, which appears to him a di- 
vine prescience, that posterity will reward him for the neglect 
of his own day; yet, if he will take the pains to inquire, he 
will find that an internal conviction, conceived to be a presci- 
ence just as divine, comforts the grocer's apprentice in the 
next street, whose hymns to Mary, or Marathon, or the Moon 
have been churlishly refused admission into the Poet's Corner 
of a monthly magazine. 

But, after all, a consolation for present disparagement or 



344 POSTHUMOUS KEPUTATION. 

neglect, in the persuasion, Avell or ill founded, of praise awarded 
by a future generation, does not seem to me a very elevated 
source of comfort, nor do I think it would be dearly prized by 
a strong mind, which has matured its experiences of mortal 
life, and trained itself to reflect upon the scope and ends of an 
immortal spirit. Although most men destined to achieve large 
objects commence their career with a rich share of that love 
of approbation which is harshly called vanity, yet in masculine 
natures there is no property which more refines itself into va- 
por, and fades away out of the character when completed, com- 
23act, rounded, solidified by its own evolutions in the lengthen- 
ed course of its orbit, than that same restless, gaseous efferves- 
cence of motive power which, at the onset of the career, while 
the future star is still but a nebula, bubbles and seethes from 
the crudity of struggling forces. That passion for apjDlause, 
whether we call it vanity or by some nobler name, has done 
its "w^ork in the organization of the man when he has effected 
things that are substantially tcorthy of applause. 

And here I may observe that there are three causes of satis- 
faction in the creation of works designed for endurance that 
are often confounded with the pleasure supposed to exist in 
the anticipation of the fame which may eventually honor the 
design : Is^. The satisfaction of art in the consultation of the 
elementary requisite of artistic construction ; 2c?. The satisfac- 
tion of what I call the intellectual conscience, and shall endeav- 
or to define ; Sc?, The satisfaction of the moral conscience. 

\st. Durability is the requisite of Jill constructive art; the 
artist intuitively aims at it in all his ideals of form, and the 
aim itself constitutes one of the steadiest, nor least vivid, of the 
Pleasures of Art. No great architect could feel much delight 
in his palaces if he built them of snow; and even should he 
build them of marble, his anguish, as artist, would be keen if 
he discovered that he had committed some so great fault in 
mechanics that his girders and columns were unable to support 
his dome, and in a few years his fabric would be a ruin. Nei- 
ther could any great writer rejoice in designing works in which 
he knew that the principle of duration was violated or ignored. 
"What is thus true as a source of satisfaction in art is, though 
in lesser degree, true also in action, if the action be that of a 
constructor. Strenuous endeavor, in all really great minds, 
aims at durability, wherever it seeks to construct. 



POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION. 345 

And in proportion to a man's belief in the worttiiuess of la- 
bors which necessitates the sacrifice of many fugitive joys will 
be his satisfaction in the adoption of principles which tend to 
secm-e the result of those labors from decay. Nor is this all. 
In the very habit of consulting the object of permanence for 
the designs which he meditates, his whole mind ascends into a 
higher and calmer atmosphere of intellectual enjoyment; he is 
less affected by the cares and troubles of the immediate hour 
in his positive existence, and less mortified by any shortlived 
envy or neglect to Avhich his intellectual or ideal existence is 
subjected. As the eye finds a soothing charm in gazing on 
extended prospects, so does the mind take pleasure in contem- 
plating objects remote in time. 

" 'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view." 

2d. There is an intellectual as well as a moral conscience, 
and the content of both is serene and full in proportion as the 
attraction to things evanescent is counteracted by the attrac- 
tion toward objects that endure. Hence genius is patient as 
well as virtue, and patience is at once an anodyne and a tonic 
— nay, more, it is the only stimulant which always benefits and 
never harms. 

3fZ. There is a cheering pleasure to the moral conscience 
akin to that of beneficence in the construction of intellectual 
works worthy of duration — a satisfaction which every human 
being not indifferent to the welfare of his kind may reasona- 
bly conceive in the design of things that may contribute to the 
uses and enjoyments of succeeding generations. 

But all these three sources of gratification are wholly dis- 
tinct from the vainer and ignobler calculations of reward for 
present labors in the imagined murmur of future plaudits. 
For, after all, perhaps the best of what a man of genius (what- 
ever his fame may be) has accomplished is never traced pop- 
ularly or distinctly home to him. He suggests infinitely more 
than he can perform : what he performs is visible, what he 
suggests is undiscerned. Whether in science, or art, or action, 
he implants many an idea in other minds, which they develop 
in their own way, unconscious of what they owed to the orig- 
inator. Can any living poet tell us, or divine himself, what he 
owes to Shakspeare, to Homer, or perhaps to some forgotten 
ballad, chanted low by an old woman's cracked voice when he 

P2 



346 POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION. 

lay half asleep, half awake, and the shadows of twilight crept 
along his nursery-floors? Let me start a great thought — let 
me perform a noble action — and the eflects thereof may con- 
tinue, iuipelling wave after wave of the world's moral atmos- 
phere till the last verge of time ; but that I should publish the 
thought or do the action from a motive of reward in human 
praise Avould neither evince a sublime generosity of mind, nor 
a prudent calculation of probable results ; for whether the 
praise be now or a thousand years hence, it Avould still be but 
human praise ; and if there would be something inherently 
vain in my nature, and vulgar in ray ambition, did I make my- 
self a mere seeker of applause now, I do not see that I should 
be more magnanimous because the applause thus coveted was 
a deferred investment. All I can see is, that I should be less 
rational ; for at least applause now I can enjoy — aj^plause when 
I am dead I can not. 

Nor would it be a sign of a disciplined intellect to forget 
the unpleasant truth illustrated by so vast a majority of in- 
stances, viz., that a man Avho can not win fame in his own age 
will have very small chance of winning it from posterity. 
True, there are some half dozen exceptions to this truth among 
millions of myriads that attest it ; but what man of common 
sense would invest any large amount of hoj)e in so unpromis- 
ing a lottery ! 

Now, in proportion as some earnest child of genius and la- 
bor, with capacities from which renown emanates and travels 
as light does from a sun, nears the mystery of the grave, it is 
a reasonable supposition that his mind will more solemnly take 
into its frequent meditation the increasing interest of the 
mighty question to which the very thought of the grave in- 
vites all who have learned to think. Either he arrives at a 
firm conviction, or at least at a strong belief, one way or other, 
or he remains in that indecision of doubt which distrusts a 
guide and disdains a guess. If his conviction or belief be that 
which I conceive to be exceedingly rare in men of genius, viz., 
that when the breath passes from his clay, his sense of being, 
his Ego, is eternally annihilated, and all of him that remain in- 
destructible are what he in life despised as the meanest and 
rudest parts of him, viz., the mere elements of his material 
form escaping from his cofiin to furnish life to some other ma- 
terial form, vegetable or organic, with which he can have no 



POSTHUMOUS BEPUTATION. 347 

conscious identity, no cognate affinity, I can not conceive by 
what confusion of ideas he could rejoice in some remote honor 
paid to the Ego blotted evermore out of creation. I can un- 
derstand that a man adopting this Sadducean creed might 
still care what his children, his friends might think of him 
when absorbed in the JSfeant or Nothingness which Danton 
understood by the word Death, because, though he may argue 
himself out of the perceptions of his soul, he has obeyed, per- 
haps to the last kiss of his faltering lip, the last wistful look 
of his glazing eye, the feelings of his heart ; and it is his heart 
which bids him hope that the children he loves, the friends he 
regrets to leave, should, if but for their sakes, feel no shame in 
mourning him who so loved and cherished them. But an 
egotistical desire for mere fame continued after the Ego itself 
is annihilated — after children and friends are annihilated in 
their turn ; a fame which, howsoever long it may endure, is 
but to be transmitted to races all as perishable in thought and 
spirit as himself, momentary animations of mere salts, and 
minerals, and gases — evanescent as May-flies on a rivulet, and 
obeying but instincts as limited to the earth they scarcely 
touch ere they quit, as are an ant's to the wants of its toilsome 
commonwealth — a desire for posthumous fame, on the con- 
ditions founded on such belief, were a bloodless and imbecile 
vanity, to which a man Avorthy to win fame could scarcely bow 
even his human pride. 

But if on this subject of spiritual immortality a man ap- 
proach the grave with no conviction — no belief one way or 
other (simply in that state of skeptic doubt with which phi- 
losophy commences inquiry, and out of which into some defin- 
ite conclusion or other it must emerge if it would solve a 
single secret or hazard a single guess into truth), then I ap- 
prehend that the very coolness of his temperament would pre- 
serve him from any very eager desire for a thing so airy and 
barren — so unphilosophical in itself as the vague echo of a 
name. Minds thus cautiously hesitating before they can ac- 
knowledge the substance of proofs are not likely to be the 
superstitious adorers of a phantom. 

Lastly, if a man of strong mind and bright imagination has 
come to the firm conviction or pervading faith that he begins 
after death to live again in some region wholly remote from 
earth, with wholly new perceptions adapted to new destina- 



348 POSTHUMOUS PvEPUTATIOX. 

tions, the desire of mere renown on the spot to which for an 
iufinitesimally brief period of his being he has been consigned, 
may indeed be conceived, may at moments be even keen, but 
it Avill not be constant, nor, when it stirs Avithin him, be long 
indulged. For it could scarcely fail to b'ecome subordinate 
(in proportion to the height of his aspirations and the depth 
of his intellect) to the more important question, how far he 
has been preparing and training himself, not for renown to the 
name which on quitting earth he will have more cast off and 
done with than Pythagoras had cast off and done with that of 
Euphorbus, but rather for new name and new rank in that 
great career which only commences when earth and its names 
are left. 

Thus the dream of fame, so w^arm and vivid in very early 
youth, gradually obtains its euthanasia, among the finest or- 
ders of minds, in a kind of serene enthusiasm for duty. The 
more beautiful and beautifying is the nature of the man, the 
more beauty that nature throws into its ideals of duty. So 
that duty itself loses its hai'cl and austere aspects, and becomes 
as much the gi-acious and sweet result of impulses which mel- 
low into habits, as harmony is the result of keys and chords 
fitted and attuned to music. 

Among the ancients, the peculiar religious conceptions of a 
future life seem to have given to the desire of posthumous 
fame a force, a fervor, which it could scarcely draw from any 
existent mode of psychological belief, whether that of a Chris- 
tian or a deistical philosopher. For with either of the last 
this life is but an initiation — a probation ; and the life here- 
after is not a spectral continuance of the same modes of being, 
but a fresh and strange existence, immeasurably, ineffably more 
glorious, at least for those not condemned to lasting punish- 
ments by the Divine Judge, and (where the philosopher ven- 
tures on speculations warranted to his reason, by analogies 
from natural laws) a state of development and progress such 
as becomes the sublime notion of a being exalted from ma- 
terial into spiritual spheres. But the popular, and, indeed 
(with the exception of a few segregated sages), the almost uni- 
versal idea of the classic ancients as to a future state even for 
the Blessed, w^as not one of progress and development, but of 
a pale imitation in the sunless Elysian fields of the pursuits 
which had pleased on earth. It is no wonder that Horace 



POSTHUMOUS EEPUTATION. 349 

should exult to have built in his verse a monument of himself 
more perennial tlinn brass, when, in his vision of the realms of 
Proserpine and tlie cliosen seats of the Pious, Sappho still "wail- 
ingly sings of her mortal loves, and AIcjbus, in more ample 
strain, chants to his golden lyre the hardships of shipwreck, 
and flight, and war. To recall the span of life was the only 
occupation of eternity. The more contentious and strifefnl 
the reminiscences invoked, the more agreeably they relieved 
the torpor of unwilling repose — 

"Magis 
Pugnas et exactos tyrannos 

Densum humeris bibit aure volgus." 

Putting aside the speculative conjectures of their philosophers, 
the notions of a future state conceived by the ancients have no 
representation in any of the three sections of modern doctrine 
at wdiich I have superficially glanced. They did not doubt 
with the modern skeptic — did not accept a natural religion 
like the modern Deist, nor rely upon the distinct assurances of 
a divine revelation like the modern Christian. They maintain- 
ed the continuance after death of an unsatisfactory, unalluring 
state of being, in which the mortal, conducted by Mercury to 
Charon's boat, was, in mind, desire, and thought, as in bodily 
form, but the ghost and larva of his former self. In the fields 
of Asphodel, nothing new, nothing more, was to be done 
throughout the flat waste of wearisome eternity — mortal life 
alone w^as the sphere of intellect and action. What, therefore, 
the mortal had done in life was all that the immortal could do 
throughout the endless ages. And as the instinct of immor- 
tality is not, when it be profoundly examined, the mere craving 
to live on, but, Avith all finer natures, the craving to live wor- 
thily, hereafter as here, so, to genius the life even of Elysian 
fields being but an objectless, unprogressive existence, the very 
instinct of the only immortality in any way correspondent to 
its powers as well as to its aspirations served to intensify the 
desire of perpetuity for the things achieved in the sole sphere 
of life wherein any thing at all could be achieved. And as the 
brightest joy the Elysian wanderer could experience was in 
the remembrance of his glories past, so the fame for glories 
past in his life of man formed a practical idea of endxxring sol- 
ace, even in the notions a heathen formed of his life as spirit. 
Nor can even the philosopher thoroughly escape the influence 



350 POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION. 

of the prevalent and popular tenets of his age. And thus the 
old philosophers, in their rejection of vulgar fables, and their 
more enlightened conceptions of the destinations of souls, did 
not, and could not, attain to the same spiritual elevation of 
thought as is at this day mechanically attained by even the 
philosophical Deist, who, in rejecting Christianity, at least takes 
his start into speculation from the height he quits ; for his idea 
of a soul's destination will include total change of earthly pur- 
suits and ends — development and progress through the eter- 
nity he concedes to it. 

Thus, among the ancients of the classic Avorld as among our 
Teuton or Scandinavian forefathers, the life of ghost being lit- 
tle more than the pale reflection of the life of man, the man 
not unnaturally identified his ambition Avith that renown among 
men, the consciousness of which would form the most vivid of 
his pleasures, and afford him the highest rank, in the Realm of 
Shadow. 

It is not so to the psychologist, who associates his notion of 
immortal life with that of infinite progress, and lifts the hope 
of virtue farther and farther from the breath of man — nearer 
and nearer toward the smile of God. 

Let us consider! Suppose you were to say to an intelligent, 
aspiring child, at a small preparatory school, "The reward to 
which you must look forward, as inducement and encourage- 
ment to all your present toils and privations, is the renown 
you will leave in this little school when you have left it. No 
matter how repugnant noAV your lessons, no matter how se- 
vere your floggings, no matter how cruel the boys, nor how 
unjust the master — is it not a sublime consolation, a sustaining 
joy, that, fifty years after you have gone out of these narrow 
walls into the spacious world on which they open, other little 
boys, in skeleton jackets like your own, will jDoint to the name 
you have carved on your desk, and say, ' He Avas one of us ?' " 

I suspect that the child, being intelligent and aspiring, would 
answer, if permitted to speak frankly, " Sir, that is all very 
well ; but in itself such anticipation would not console me in 
my suflTerings, nor sustain me in my trials. Certainly I should 
be well pleased, while I am here, to be admired by my school- 
fellows and praised by my masters ; that hope would encour- 
age and animate me, as a present reward for present labors ; 
but when you bid me look into the future for reward, my mind 



POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION. 351 

does not conceive it probable that it will go back to the past 
life in this little school — involuntarily it goes forward to that 
wide world, which, as you say, opens out of the school, and for 
which my lessons here educate and prepare me; and to win 
high place among those in that larger world is a dream of am- 
bition much more inspiring, and much more comforting, than 
any thought of what little boys m skeleton jackets may say of 
me in this little school fifty years after I have left it, and for- 
gotten all the troubles and torments I experienced herein." 

Yet wiiat preparatory school, as compared with the great 
world it leads to, can be to the child so small and insignificant 
as the scope of this life must seem to the man w^ho believes 
himself immortal, compared with the infinity for which this 
life educates his soul? And if, on the other side of the grave, 
we allow ourselves to suppose that a departed spirit could be 
made aware of the renown which it has left on this — coiild 
learn that, centuries or cycles after it had quitted the poor 
painful little school, the n-ame it had carved on its old worm- 
eaten desk was still visible, and pointed out to new-comers by 
the head boys with respect — we can scarcely conceive that 
this long-departed spirit would feel any very sensible joy. 

For indeed it does not happen to many of us to be told in 
middle life or old age that at the little preparatory school — 
where, after some mental effort, we can just dimly remember 
that our knuckles were once rapped by an usher, and our tasks 
once rewarded by a badge of ribbon, or even a silver medal — 
little boys, little as we were then, do talk of us, do point to the 
name we so clumsily carved on our desk, and do say, " That 
fellow was one of the cleverest boys we ever had at the 
school." And yet I do not think that when, from time to 
time, such complimentary intelligence comes to us — mature 
men — it dwells on our minds for more than a moment or so. 
It may give a transient and lukewarm gratification ; but the 
grander occupations of our mature life, in grander spheres of 
action, engage and absorb us, and lift our sources of joy high 
beyond the reminiscence of petty triumphs achieved by us 
when little children. Five hundred years is a long term for 
renown on earth, yet it is not too much to hope that five hund- 
red years after an immortal being has left this Avorld, he will 
be at least as far advanced and exalted in the measureless 
course of his progress — above his proudest achievements in 



352 POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION. 

this human life — as a man of sixty can be advanced and exalt- 
ed in the development of his powers beyond the Gradus and 
Syntax he dog-eared fifty years ago. 

Out of these reflections grows a j^sychological query, which, 
as it often occurs to me when meditating on such subjects, I 
venture to cast forth in suggestion. Assuming, as sufficiently 
borne out by evidence, the propositions herein laid down, viz., 
that the desire for posthumous reputation is so far common to 
mankind that few of us do not desire that those we love and 
esteem should cherish and respect our memory for what are 
called our moral qualities, while the desire of renown among 
those not endeared to us by personal love and esteem, for qual- 
ities purely intellectual, is limited to very few, and of those 
few, fewer still (nor they, jDerhaps, the worthiest of renown) 
with whom the desire is either intense or habitual after the 
season of youth — assuming, I say, the general truth of those 
propositions, may it not be possible, seeing how far the great 
scheme of Providence embraces general laws rather than par- 
ticular exceptions, and makes most enduring the phenomena 
most general and least exceptional, may it not be possible that, 
while w^e retain in the next life the same or kindred instincts 
of affection, the same or kindred substrata of moral being, our 
purely intellectual attributes may undergo a complete trans- 
formation — that a wholly new order of those mental faculties, 
■which we here, in vulgar phrase, call our "talents," may grow 
up within altered organizations fitted to the wholly new range 
of destinies and duties to which we are removed and readapt- 
ed ? Now, when we pursue the thoughts which this query 
humbly starts, we are certainly compelled to allow that by far 
the greater number of these intellectual faculties or " talents" 
are specially applicable to the special order of things which be- 
longs to this life, and for which no philosophical speculation on 
the next life enables us to conjecture any renewal of analogous 
uses. 

I may have the special talents that fit me to be a great gen- 
eral, or a great lawyer, or a great surgeon ; and for such tal- 
ents, in such fitting application of them in this life, I may, in 
this life, obtain great renown, though, apart from the special 
talents for which the renown is obtained,! may be but a very 
ordinary mortal, Nor can I, by any stretch of imagination, 
suppose that any field for these special talents lies yonder — in 



POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION. 353 

the spiritual empyrean. There, surely, no spirit will have to 
consider how many other spirits he can destroy with the least 
destruction of life to his own spiritual followers ; there, sure- 
ly, no spirit can find exercise for those talents so valued here, 
by which witnesses are puzzled, juries dazzled, truth clipped or 
counterfeited by the craft of a glozing tongue ; there, surely, 
will be no Avork for the surgeon's skill — no bones to set, no 
limbs to amputate — no discoveries in blood and tissues, such 
as give fame to a Harvey or a Bichat. So far as concerns the 
special talents which their whole intellectual organization here 
was devoted to enlarge and enrich, the occupations of these 
Othellos — martial, forensic, clinical — would be gone.* 

Do the followers of art arrogate better right of perpetuated 
exercise to their special talents — or may we not rather doubt 
if an immortal being, removed from the sphere of academies 
and galleries, exhibitions and patrons, would even desire to go 
on through eternity sculpturing and painting? Orators, to 
whom, here, we accord such popular renown, would find small 
profit from Quintilian's lessons in realms where nothing wrong 
can be defended, and nothing right can be attacked. Even 
authors, alas ! may not secure to their " talents" the scope and 
delight of perpetuated scribbling ; for each author has his own 
specialty, whereby he Avins, hei'e, his fame : one is a poet, an- 
other a novelist, a third a historian, a fourth a critic, and a fifth 
perhaps a political pamphleteer. But out of any of these spe- 
cial departments of intellect subtract the special pabulum that 
the soil of each department requires — subtract this world of 
men, with men's fleeting interests and passions, and there 
would remain little or nothing for which the special faculty of 
the author is adapted. The poet, perhaps, would claim a su- 
perb exemption — he would contend for the privilege of eter- 
nal versifying, as the highest occupation of spiritual existence. 
But if you take from any poet to whom criticism here accords 
the highest order, the theses of crime and Avar, pity and terror, 
sufiering and strife, you take away all that gave to his special 
faculty as poet its noblest exercise and its most confessed re- 
nown. He might still, it is true, describe and moralize, but it 
were some discouragement to that anticipation to be told by 

* The thought here expressed is, in a previous Essay, applied to "Hints 
on Mental Culture:" "This world is a school for the education, not of a 
faculty, but of a man." 



354 POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION. 

Hegel that, of all departments of poetic art, the descriptive 
and didactic are tbe lowest. And to describe and moralize as 
spirit in a spiritual state of being! what special faculty in mor- 
tal poet would be fitted to describe what no mortal heart can 
conceive, or to moralize where no immorality is permitted ? 
Nay, even the genius of the great preacher, who has devoted 
his special faculties to the holiest uses, will have surely no need 
to preach to immortals. It is not his talents as preachei-, 
though here their uses ai'e so vast — though here the renown 
they bequeath is so august, but rather the purity and the lov- 
ingness of motive — the moral qualities, in short, that animated 
the talents, dictated their uses, beautified the preacher's whole 
moral being — which we may reasonably conceive continued, 
perpetuated, developed in a world where there are no sins to 
denounce and no sorrows to console. 

The philosophers, as the seekers after nature and explorers 
of the unknown, have implied, in many an eloquent page, that 
their special talents are those best fitted for celestial regions. 
But, unluckily for this assumption, it is a maxim received among 
philosophers themselves, from the days of Aristotle down to 
those of Sir William Hamilton, that philosophy ceases where 
truth is acknowledged. Instancing the received doctrine of 
gravitation. Sir William Hamilton says, " Arrived at the gen- 
eral fact that all bodies gravitate toward each other, we inquire 
no farther." Again, " The sciences always studied with keen- 
est interest are those in a state of progress and uncertainty ; 
absolute certainty and absolute completion would be the pa- 
ralysis of any study ; and the last, worst calamity that could 
befall man as he is at present constituted would be that full 
and final possession of speculative truth which he now vainly 
anticipates as the consummation of his intellectual happiness." 
Thus the genius, and even the desii-e of philosophy ceases in 
any state of being where truth ceases to be uncertain. The 
special talents of the philosopher are those which enable him 
keenly to detect, and cautiously to trace, a something in crea- 
tion previously obscured or hidden. But let the something 
be made clear and acknowledged, and there is nothing left to 
philosophize about. So that when we come to examine, not 
only do the occupations for those special intellectual faculties 
which w^e call our " talents," and on which earthly renown is 
bestowed, seem to terminate with their special uses for their 



POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION. 355 

exercise on earth, but the stimulants and motives which have 
called forth their exercise would be withdrawn in a state of 
being which, according to all enlightened conjecture, must be 
distinguished from this by the very absence of those causes in 
human passion, contest, suffering, error, by which such special 
faculties are quickened and impelled. And seeing that, by the 
Divine Guide toward the future whom Christians revere, so 
"much stress is laid on cultivating the affections of the heart, 
and the moral sentiments Avhich conduce to moral improve- 
ment, while no stress is laid on the elaborate culture of purely 
intellectual faculties (as it was by those Greek philosophers 
who seem to have regarded the affections of the heart with 
sublime contempt, and made moral improvement the result of 
that scholastic wisdom into which they resolved virtue, and 
which not one man in a million could have the leisure to ac- 
quire or the wit to understand, so that their conception of the 
blessed would have been a college of lecturing sages), this 
comparative silence of Christian doctrine as to heavenly re- 
ward for the intellectual faculties which win earthly renown 
may have deeper reason than at first glance appears, viz., not 
only because Christian promise being extended to illiterate 
multitudes as well as to the cultured few, only those require- 
ments for immortal reward were enforced with which the 
peasant as well as the sage could comply, but also because the 
foundations of our future spiritual reconstruction are in those 
portions of our being which are given to us in common, and 
not in those special faculties or talents which may be as ex- 
clusively adapted to this earth as are the instincts of the cater- 
pillar to his state of caterpillar, and may undergo as great and 
entire a change as do the instincts of the insect when it aban- 
dons its creejiing form and hovers in the air — a butterfly. 

Possibly, at first sight, the views here suggested may seem 
discouraging to our human intellectual pride. "What," I 
may ask, " are the faculties I have so studied, whether as sol- 
dier, lawyer, surgeon, artist, author, orator, to develop and 
ripen here, as the finest part of my being, and to my pre-emi- 
nence in which my fellow-men accord their praise — are those 
faculties to perish while I myself do not perish ? No; whither 
goes my soul must go my mind ; whither goes my mind must 
go those special faculties which my mind has the most dili- 
gently cultivated and the most largely developed." Vain pre- 



356 POSTHUMOUS EEPUTATION. 

sumption ! Whither goes the soul may go the mind, but a 
mind so wholly changed that it no longer needs, for the pur- 
veyors of ideas, the senses of the material body, nor the induce- 
ments to special purposes and uses limited to an initiatory 
stage of trial. 

For the rest, so long as I myself — the personal integral Ego, 
conscious of identity — survive, and am borne to a higher state 
of development, it is no extravagant supposition that if what 
are now called my faculties or talents, being no longer needed, 
fade out from my new phase of being, they will be succeeded 
by other capacities and powers of which I can not conceive 
nor conjecture (so foreign they will be to my present modes 
of thought and existence), but which may be so incomparably 
loftier than those I now complacently value, that, could I fore- 
know the difference, I should smile to tliink I had pined to 
carry my spark of glow-worm into the splendors of celestial 
light. 



ESSAY XXV. 

(Dii umt ^Intljnrs in iqIidsb ili^ritingH ItininUligj 
nf tjiB Wnxll is niiittButlii !iis]ilapL 

We all understand what is meant by " Knowledge of the 
World," yet it is not very easy to define the meaning. It is 
not identical with Knowledge of Mankind ; for authors who 
have shown in their writings considerable knowledge of.man- 
kind, have been notable in their lives for blunders incompatible 
with Knowledge of the World. No one, on reading Steele's 
Essays in the " Tatler" or " Spectator," could say, " This writ- 
er is without knowledge of mankind," No one can read 
Steele's biography, and not wonder that a man of intellect so 
ready, and when in print so acute, should not acquire enough 
knowledge of the world to save him from those credulous im- 
prudences and restless levities of venture which are generally 
confined to the raw inexperience of a novice in life. Gold- 
smith can not be said, by the most disparaging of his critics, 
to have evinced an ignorance of mankind ; and the most enthu- 
siastic of his admirers will admit that, when it came to knowl- 
edge of the world, the author of " The Vicar of Wakefield," 
"The Good-natured Man," and "The Traveller," was little 
better than a baby. 

If Knowledge of the World be not identical with a poet's 
or a thinker's Knowledge of Mankind, neither is it identical 
with a politician's knowledge of his time and country; for su- 
premacy in that latter kind of knowledge has secured power 
to statesmen who have been considered, even by their own 
admirers, singularly deficient in knowledge of the world. Cer- 
tainly no minister ever better understood his time and country 
than the younger Pitt. The main cause of his precocious and 
enduring ascendency may be found in that remarkable sympa- 
thy Avith public opinion, which is the most incontestable proof 
of a statesman's comprehension of the spirit of his age and na- 



358 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 

tion ; yet his familial- friends remarked, half in complaint, half 
in eulogy, that he had no knowledge of the world. Mr. Wil- 
berforce even says that he wanted knowledge of mankind. 
On the other hand, Mr. Fox is said to have had very great 
knowledge of the world. It was his superior repute for that 
knowledge Avhich assigned to him rather than to Mr. Burke 
the leadership of the Whig party in the House of Commons. 
Yet, if there be one thing more than another which excluded 
the genius of Mr. Fox from the prizes of jDower, it was that de- 
fective comprehension of his time and his countrymen which 
made him so frequently at variance with public opinion, even 
when most ardently desirous of popular applause. 

Knowledge of the World, so far as the phrase will bear ex- 
planation, seems to imply a knowledge of the manners and hab- 
its, the ordinary motive- springs and the conventional move- 
ments of that society which is to the world what the surface 
is to the sea; and to be distinguished from knowledge of a 
larger and deeper kind, viz., the knowledge that interprets the 
laws of human nature, or comprehends the prevailing sentiment 
of an age and people, as the seamanship of an accomplished 
member of the Yacht Club is distinguished from the science 
of a cosmographer or the skill of an admiral. Still this knowl- 
edge of the world is not to be disparaged. There is much to 
envy in the brilliant owner of a yacht admirably managed and 
elegantly equipped ; and it is not every man who has the au- 
dacious ambition to measure the waves as a Scoresby, or to 
rule them as a Nelson. 

No common rank in social consideration is enjoyed by him 
who, without pretending to any other rare gifts or acquire- 
ments, possesses in high degree knowledge of the world, and 
the exquisite tact which is its usual concomitant. And if such 
knowledge be the polished addition to deej^er wisdom and no- 
bler characteristics, it will serve to render genius more con- 
summate and virtue more alluring. 

Much, it is true, has been said, in the way of satire, to de- 
preciate, nay, even to vilify and hold up to ascetic scorn, that 
type of urban idiosyncrasies which is called emphatically " The 
Man of the World." The man of the world appears sufficient- 
ly odious in Macklin's play and Mackenzie's novel ; but knowl- 
edge of the world, like any other knowledge, does not of itself 
necessitate participation in the follies and vices of which it is 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 359 

cognizant. A man of the world is not necessarily a knave be- 
cause the world contains knaves, any more than he is neces- 
sarily a fool because the world contains fools. There are many 
more fools in the world than there are knaves, otherwise the 
knaves could not exist ; yet the man of the world even in 
Mackenzie and Macklin is certainly no fool. A j^hysician may 
be familiarly acquainted with diseases, yet himself be healthy ; 
a lawyer may see through all the devices of rogues, yet him- 
self be honest ; and so a man of the world may be thoroughly 
aware of the Avorld's infirmities, and thoroughly up to the 
world's tricks, without being himself either a Mareschal de 
Richelieu or a Jonathan Wild. Indeed, the legitimate result 
of knowledge of the world should tend to make us, on the 
whole, somewhat better, because somewhat juster, and, being 
juster, somewhat kinder, than we were in those days of inex- 
perienced presumption when youth is inclined to be the vehe- 
ment censor of such vices as it is not tempted to commit, and 
the flippant satirist of such virtues as it is not allured to imi- 
tate. In fact, just as it may be years before we discover the 
better qualities of any man, while his foibles strike us at the 
first glance, so it is with that aggregate of men which we call 
the world. Lord Melbourne, who in earlier life was someAvhat 
predisposed toward cynical views of the Avorld's standard of 
morality, said, after quitting ofiice, " I am glad to have been 
first minister, for I found that men are much better, much more 
honorable and sincere, than I had supposed them to be Avhen 
I was in opposition." Certainly he knows very little of the 
world we live in nowadays who does not become more in- 
dulgent and charitable than he was when he first started into 
life. And he is led into such charity and indulgence after un- 
dergoing many melancholy deceptions, and perhaps writhing 
under some grievous wrongs, by discovering that a man may 
be wise in spite of his foibles, and good in spite of his errors ; 
that it is very rarely we find a dull man without his clever 
points, or a bad man without some redeeming virtue. On the 
other hand, greatness and goodness of a really high and noble 
order become more visibly great and good the more they are 
examined by a man who, having in himself something of great 
or good, can measure their proportions in the universe he in- 
habits with the accuracy which can only be attained by a prac- 
ticed eye. Stars are all small to the infant and the clown : it 



360 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 

is the philosopher who astonishes us by the information of 
their magnitude. It is true that a hero may not be a hero to 
his valet-cU-chambre. "Of course not," says Goethe, "for a 
man must be a hero to understand a hero. The valet, I dare 
say, Avould have a great respect for some man who had a supe- 
rior stamj) as valet." " But what," asks some juvenile Timon, 
" what can palliate the blackness of the perfidies which have 
blighted into lasting misanthropy my bloom of life?" meaning 
the mournful interval between twenty-one and twenty-three. 
Certainly, oh generous Timon, it is probable that at twenty- 
one you may have already found in your friend a hawk who 
regards you as a pigeon, and in your sweetheart an angel in 
nothing except the wings which have borne her away from 
your arms. But, granting all the infamy of those in whom, 
with the fondness of youth, you invested your belief in human 
virtue, still, if you look round, even to that limited circumfer- 
ence in life which your practical survey can command, all hu- 
man beings have not proved themselves monsters. Perhaps 
your father was not altogether a rogue ; perhaps your mother 
had some lovable quality ; perhaps your little sister now and 
then kissed you disinterestedly ; perhaps all the boys at your 
school were not thieves and liars. You have chanced — as we 
all chance, sooner or later, in going through life — on some per- 
son, male or female, who behaved very ill to you ; an excellent 
reason for being a little more cautious whom you trust in fu- 
ture — no reason at all for trusting nobody. Live on, and, un- 
less you are an incorrigible simpleton, you will find that in 
such society as a man of honor familiarly frequents, where he 
meets with one knave and traitor he meets with a hundred 
gentlemen as upright and loyal as himself. Nay, live on, and 
you will acknowledge a truth, of which, at this moment of an- 
ger, you are still more scornfully incredulous — those monsters 
who have behaved so atrociously to you may in other relations 
of life be estimable. The parasites at whose heads Timon flung 
the dishes before he rushed off to his cave in the woods had 
doubtless some finer trait of humanity than that of being para- 
sites to Timon. Of those "lords," how do we know that the 
first lord was not an excellent father and husband ; the second 
lord a gallant Avarrior ; the third lord a useful member of the 
Areopagus ? 

In short, I suspect that every really skilled man of the world 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOKLD. 361 

— as the world, exists for its citizens in tliis nineteenth century 
— who,, at the ripe age of forty, looks from the window of his 
club on the every-day mortals whom Fourier has hitherto 
failed to reform, has convinced himself that, considering all the 
mistakes in our education and. rearing — all the temptations to 
which flesh and. blood, are exposed — all the trials which pov- 
erty inflicts on the poor — all the seductions which wealth 
whispers to the rich — men, on the whole, are rather good than 
otherwise, and women, on the whole, are rather better than 
the men. 

I say " as the world, exists in this nineteenth century," be-.- 
cause it seems to me that knowledge of the world means a 
very diflierent thing in one age to what it means in another. 
There have been times when, on the surface of society, all was 
putrid and loathsome ; and. though a knowledge of that abom- 
inable scum might have been purely scientific, and though he 
who knew it best might have abhorred it most, yet knowledge 
of the world in those days must have been, to an unvitiated. 
taste, bitter as a draught from Marah ; and. any knowledge 
that keeps us in a perpetual state of wrath and scorn can 
scarcely improve our tempers or amend Our hearts, Juvenal 
seems to have had a passably full knoAvIedge of the world of 
his day, and was, we may fairly presume, conscientiously scan- 
dalized by the corruption which furnished the themes to his 
satire ; but I very much doubt if he were made a whit better 
by all the stormy indignation to Avhich the knowledge of so 
naughty a world transported his vehement genius. Midet et 
edit — he laughs and hates ; but the laugh of hatred is not a 
habit which a moralist can indulge with safety to his own 
moral nature. And probably Juvenal would have maintained 
himself in a more genuinely ethical state of mind — have been 
jjleasanter to his friends, kinder to his slaves — have burned 
with more pious devotion his incense to Jove, if he had known 
a little less of the great world of Rome, and, when tired of its 
din and its smoke, sought refuge, like Horace, in Sabine shades 
by Bandusian founts. 

If a good man find that his knowledge of the Avorld supplies 
no other food to his genius than the laugh of hate, let him 
leave to itself the world, which he can never improve by the 
mere process of railing. Is it so odious? Well, he is not 
compelled to live in it. If lie be a philosoplier, he carries 

Q 



362 KNOWLEDGE OF THE AVOKLD. 

with him a world of his own at the sole of his foot. There 
never yet has been a period in history when a man so clever 
as Juvenal could not have been good if he pleased, no matter 
how wicked all other folks were. But a man certainly can 
not be very good if he be always in a rage, even with the 
folks who are bad. In fine, 

"When grief and anger in the bosom swell, 
Let injured Thales bid the town farewell." 

But the world of our day is not the Avorld of Juvenal — no, 
nor the world of Tacitus nor Petronius (assuming, for the mo- 
ment, that the Petronius Arbiter of Tacitus wrote that novel 
of manners which scholars generally agree that he did not 
write, but which was certainly written by some very clever 
man of the world when the world was still the Roman em- 
pire) ; no, nor is the world of our day the world of St. Simon, 
of Rochefoucauld, of Horace Walpole. 

The Due de St. Simon is partly the Tacitus, partly the 
Juvenal of the old French regime. Of his style it may be 
said, as it was of Tertullian's, that " it is like ebony, at once 
dark and splendid." He stands amid the decay of a perishing 
social system. The thorough rot of the old regime is clear to 
his sanctimonious and solemn eye, through the cracks of the 
satin-wood which veneers its worm-eaten substance and bun- 
gled joinery. I am far from saying that men, on the whole, 
were rather good than otherwise, and women, on the whole, 
rather better than the men, in the world which St. Simon 
knew ; but his world was very contracted. His personal 
vanity served to contract it still more. Marmontel said of 
him "that all which he saw in the nation was the noblesse ; 
all that he saw in the noblesse was the peerage ; and all that 
he saw in the peerage was himself" — an exaggerated judg- 
ment, as definitions of character condensed into sarcasms 
usually are, but not without a large foundation of truth. The 
world of a court is not a fair sample even of that mere supei'- 
ficies of concrete existence to which I proposed limiting our 
survey of what is called knowledge of the world, much less 
the court of an absolute monarchy. To use the Due's own 
expression, no man had keener penetration than he into " le 
manege cles courtisans.''^ But courtiers are not the people ; 
the life of a court is not the life of a nation : it is to the na- 
tion's life what a sucker grafted on a stem is to the tree which 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOKLD. 363 

has its roots in the soil ; the flowers and fruits which it yields 
are those of the sucker, and not of the tree. But to the suc- 
cess of all grafting, these conditions are indispensable : first, 
that the place of juncture should be guarded from the air; 
secondly, that the graft should have a perfect similitude with 
the plant from which its nourishment is derived, in the grain 
of the wood, the consistency of the bark, the season for the 
sap. Where these conditions fail, it is a proof of the garden- 
er's ignorance, and not of his knowledge, if, showing me a 
blighted quince, he tells me it is a proof of disease in the na- 
tive tree — it is only a proof of disease in the alien sucker. 
'Now there was no similitude in bark or in wood between the 
courtier of Versailles and the genuine autochthon of France — 
the sap of the one had no natural confluence with the sap of 
the other; and the clay rudely plastered round the point of 
junction was, in the time of St. Simon, fast crumbling away, 
to let in, with each beam of obtrusive sunlight, the air that 
must kill, not the tree, but the graft. It is the characteristic 
of St. Simon, and of many other French memoir writers less 
gifted, to imagine that, in showing the sickliness of the graft, 
they are proving the condition of the tree. They treat of the 
grand monde/ hut their grcmd monde is only the face of the 
beau motide, with bloom that comes not from the veins, but 
from carmine and pearl powder. 

This defect of scope detracts from the merit of an observer 
still more subtle and keen than St. Simon. Rochefoucauld re- 
duces to the dimensions of drawing-i'oom epigram the range 
of a philosophy intended to illustrate the mechanism of Man 
by a morality drawn from the knowledge of Manners. ' His 
maxims are exquisite specimens of that kind of wisdom which 
might be attained in boudoirs and ^:>ei'/^5 soupers by a French 
duke of brilliant wit, of sharp penetration — adorned by a style 
that, for neatness and finish, might have been written by Al- 
cibiades, amusing his exile in Sparta by refining Laconic apho- 
risms into Attic diction. 

Yet, while Rochefoucauld has no claim to original concep- 
tion in the Epicurean theory, tracing all the springs of our ac- 
tions, good or evil, sublime or base, to that self-love of which 
the "Maxims" are designed to be the brilUant Euclid, the 
propositions by which he illustrates his doctrine are based on 
experiences visibly narrow. One perceives at a glance that 



364 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 

Rocbefoucauld's men, who "in the adversity of their best 
friends always find something that does not displease them," 
were hollow-hearted intriguants for fortune, place, and favor ; 
men who, even in the heat of civil war (the war of the Fronde), 
seem devoid of one patriotic sentiment or of. one ennobling 
opinion. Even the great Conde takes arms with the foreigner 
against his own country, from no conceivable motive except 
that he had not been treated with all the egards due to him at 
court. In such a camp as that of the Fronde, in such a court 
as that of France, I have no doubt that men found something 
not displeasing to them in the adversities of their best friends. 
Those men liad been accustomed from childhood to think very 
little of their best friends where their own interests were con- 
cerned. So, when Rochefoucauld says that "there are few 
virtuous women who are not tired of their metier^'' I have no 
doubt that the saying was true as applied to the French mar- 
chionesses, to whom virtue was a metier. Aphorisms like 
these, applied to humankind in general, are only sarcasms hav- 
ing just that proportion of partial truth to which sarcasm is 
indebted for its sparkle. Nothing conveys a more inaccurate 
idea of a whole truth than a part of a truth so prominently 
brought forth as to throw the other parts into shadow. This 
is the art of caricature ; and by the hajjpy iTse of that art you 
might caricature the Apollo Belvidere. 

To a^Dpreciate the process of thought by which Rochefou- 
cauld arrives at his famous maxim of our secret content in the 
adversities of our best friends, it is necessary to glance at some 
of his opinions on friendship in general; as, for instance, "That 
which men have named friendship is only a society, a recipro- 
cal management of interests, and an exchange of good offices; 
it is, in fine, only a commerce wherein self-love always proposes 
to itself a something to gain." Again, "It is difficult to love 
tliose Avhom Ave do not esteem, but it is not less so to love 
those whom we esteem much more than ourselves." Or, 
" We have always sufficient strength to bear the ills — of an- 
other." 

Maxims thus cynical, set forth after deliberate meditation, 
and so carefully weighed, so laboriously polished, that every 
word has been a study, must either be congenial to the nature 
of the Avriter or to the social experiences from Avhich he has 
drawn them ; but they Avere not congenial to the nature of 



KNOWLEDGE OE THE WOELD. 365 

Rochefoucauld, who was esteemed, by the best judges among 
his contemporaries, for the chivalrous honor of his character ; 
and therefore it is in such maxims that we see, not the writer, 
not mankind in general, but the social attributes of the time 
and circle in which he lived. There are few things that more 
intelligibly depict the condition of any given state of society 
than the estimate taken of those affections of love and friend- 
ship which are the cement of all societies, but may in one age 
be a cement of cracking rubble or crumbling mud, and in an- 
other age of Parian stone. 

In healthful — that is, in free — communities, there are certain 
public friendships in which the types of private friendship ap- 
pear heroic ; and, from the disinterested nature of the public 
friendships, private friendships insensibly acquire generosity 
and elevation. Certainly, in those public friendshijDs, there is 
nothing that pleases men in the adversities of their best friends; 
for the common sympathy in great objects overpowers the 
egotism which either soothes a latent envy, or indulges a vain 
sentiment of superiority in such pleasure as can be found in 
contemplating the misfortunes of a friend. Shaftesbury has 
thus noted, among the counterpoising benefits to the evils of 
war, the magnanimity of the friendshij^s which are engender- 
ed by the participation of a common peril and a common 
glory. It is so if the combatants feel something sacred in the 
cause of the war which unites them ; not if the war be a mere 
game of personal ambition, in which the death of your best 
friend maybe a lucky step in your promotion. Thus the com- 
batant, in some war hallowed by the conviction of his con- 
science, and espoused by the passions of his heart, far from 
finding it difiicult, according to Rochefoucauld's maxim, to 
love those whom he esteems more than himself, loves his chief 
exactly in jDroportion as he accords to that chief an esteem in 
which the sense of his own personality absolutely vanishes. 
As man must personify in flesh and blood his abstract idea of 
love and veneration, so the patriot soldier invests the strongest 
affections of his heart in some heroic chief, who seems to him 
most livingly to represent whatever is most divine in his en- 
thusiastic thought. In no adversity that could befall that 
chief would there be a something that would not displease 
him. Xo genuine Ironside could have known any secret satis- 
faction had reverse befallen Cromwell — no genuine Cavalier 



366 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOKLD. 

have felt a consolatory touch of self-love when the pikemen 
smoked in the face of Charles. To both the Ironside and the 
Cavalier, the man who concentred on himself for the time the 
noblest aflections of human friendship, was the reiDresentative 
of a cause — was a Cromwell or a Charles. " Yes," you will 
say, " but this is not friendshijD ; it is something more and 
somethmg diiferent. It was not friendship that the Ironside 
felt for Cromwell, or the Cavalier for Charles." Granted; but 
in all which elevates and ennobles friendship into a relation 
beyond mere companionship, which identifies the Friend with 
some agency in the success of a principle that we hold to be a 
paramount truth — a principle that takes us literally and com- 
pletely out of all cognition of our self-love, and of all which 
common sense can accept as our self-interest — there enters an 
affection which is, more or less, like that of an enthusiast for 
the representative of his cause. And this comprehends the 
secret of that affectionate friendship which, in free states, 
springs up between members of the same party ; so that, where 
party runs strong, Cicero's saying is almost j^ainfuUy true, 
'■'■Idem sentire de Republica ea sola firma amicitia est:'''' an 
aphorism which, transferred from classic Latin into homely 
English, means, "Sympathy in political opinions constitutes the 
only firm friendship." Party spirit in our day does not run so 
high as it did in Cicero's ; in our day Ave must qualify the max- 
im. In our day, to my judgment, a safe English politician 
should be many-sided, not one-sided : he should live familiarly 
with all classes of opinion ; he should weigh deliberately and 
muse reflectively over all that is generous, and true, and wise 
in each class. I am not sure whether, in metaphysics, the ec- 
lectic school, adorned by the candid genius of Victor Cousin, 
be the deepest ; but I am sure that, for the practical adminis- 
tration of England, the eclectic statesman will obtain the 
largest amount of confidence, and do the greatest amount of 
good. Moreover, in England, thank heaven, we are not at this 
moment so engrossingiy politicians but what we have* other 
fellowships besides those of politics — Literature, Art, Science 
— even congenialities in ordinary social tastes or sympathies, 
in manners and modes of living. Happy for a land is that 
time in which political dissensions are not the tyrannical, con- 
trollers of man's intellectual, moral, spiritual being! 

But party is still a noble fellowship if it be nobly adopted — 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 367 

a uoble intercommuuication of aftection and thought; and the 
friendships formed by the large sympathies of party are still 
strong enough to give a polite contradiction to Rochefou- 
cauld's axiom. True, in party as in literature, art, trade, there 
are base jealousies. Let a member of either House of Parlia- 
ment, full of himself — full of the amour propre which Roche- 
foucauld so anatomically dissects — consult only his egotism; 
desire, if young, to shine by an oratorical display ; desire, if 
old and hardened, to betray a colleague and indulge a spleen ; 
certes, if he fail, in his adversity there will be something which 
will not displease his right honorable and noble friends. But 
once let a man merge his personality, however brilliant that be, 
in an earnest consideration of what is best for the party and 
the cause to which he belongs — real earnestness is so evident 
that it seldom admits denial in any large assembly in- which 
the earnest speaker lifts tip his truthful brow — and that man 
will have friends to whom his failure, or misfortunes involving 
failure, would convey nothing that could not displease. Those 
whom the misfortune does not displease will not be his friends, 
but his antagonists. Mr. Pitt was popularly considered a man 
in whom private friendships were somewhat frigid ; but when 
his friend Lord Melville was stricken down by a sentence of 
impeachment, tears, for the first time, were detected in Pitt's 
haughty eyes ; and the shock, to a heart indomitable to foes, 
contributed to the causes which accelerated his death. There 
was not a something in Lord Melville's adversity which did 
not displease Mr. Pitt ; nor was the afflicted friend here the 
object of a hero-worship to which the worshiper renders su- 
perstitious adoration. Melville might worship) Pitt — Pitt did 
not worship Melville. Li loyal, afiectionate friendship, I know 
not which is the stronger tie to a loyal affectionate nature — 
gratitude for him who serves you, or appreciation of gratitude 
in him whom you have served. On the whole, in proportion 
to the heroism of your nature, you will most devotedly sacri- 
fice yourself to the man who has served you, and may never- 
theless most fondly mourn for the misfortunes of the man 
whom you have had the happiness to serve ; but in neither 
case can you find, in the misfortunes of benefactor or benefit- 
ed, a something that does not displease you. Where men do 
fqel such satisfaction in the adversities of their best friends»as 
to justify Rochefoucauld's maxim, and lift it into the popular- 



368 KNOWLKiXiE OF THE WOKLD. 

ity of a proverb, there must be a rot iu the state of society; 
aud the cynicism of the saying condemns not the man who 
says it, but the society that originated iUustrations so numer- 
ous as to mal^e the saying proverbiaL As I have before said, 
Rochefoucauld's character warrants this reflection. The au- 
thor of the " Maxims" was apparently the least selfish public 
man of his land and age. Saith one of his biographers, not 
untruly, " He gave the example of all the virtues of which he 
would apjDcar to contest the existence." He ridicules bravery 
as a madness ; and as Madame de Maintenon, who could have 
had no predilection for his system, curtly observes, "^7 etoit ce- 
jyendant fort braved The proofs of his bravery do not rest 
on Madame de Maintenon's assertion. A scorn of danger, 
pre-eminently French, as it became the inheritor of so great a 
French name to exhibit, was sufiiciently shown at the siege of 
Bordeaux and the battle of St. Antoine. Madame de Sevigne 
speaks of Rochefoucauld with an admiration which she rarely 
bestows except on her daughter ; and says that, in his last 
agonizing illness, he thought more of his neighbor than him- 
self. Cardinal de Retz, in the portrait he has left of the bril- 
liant duke — a portrait certainly not flattered — tells us that this 
philosopher, who reduced all human motives to self-interest, 
did not feel {il ne sentoit pas) the little interests which have 
never been his weak point {son foible)^ and did not understand 
the great interests {il ne connoissoit pas les grands) which 
have not been his strong point {so7i fort) ; and, finally, this 
acute critic of contemporaneous celebrities, after assuring us 
that Rochefoucauld " had never been a good party-man," tells 
us that, in the relations of common life, Rochefoucauld was the 
honestest man of his age {le plus honnete liomme d Vegard de 
la me commune qui eUt paru dans son sihcle). And yet, 
though Rochefoucauld w^as not depraved by the world in 
whren he lived, we may reasonably doubt if he would not have 
been a still better man if his knowledge of it had been some- 
what less intimate. He tells us, for instance, that he was in- 
sensible to compassion. Would he have been so insensible to 
compassion if he had not somewhat hardened his own heart 
by the process of dissecting, with scientific remorselessness, 
the mean little hearts Avhich furnish the subjects of his lectures 
ou'mankind? If some skillful vivisector has spent the morH- 
iiig in disjointing and disemboweling the curs that he submits 



K.NOWLEDGE OF THE WOKLD. 369 

to his philosophical scalpel, one can scarcely, expect him to he 
seized with compassion for a hungry mastifl" or a footsore 
pointer whom he may encounter in his evening walks. 

I must crave pardon for treating at such length of the au- 
thor of the "Maxims," and of the fallacies contained in his 
theory. The pardon is due to me ; for we arc never to forget 
the extent to which the flxshiouable philosophy of France has 
operated on the intellect and action of Europe ; and Voltaire 
assures us, in his most elaborate work, that " the book which 
most contributed to form the taste of the French nation was 
the 'Maxims' of Francois, Due de Rochefoucauld." That is 
true ; not only the taste, but the mode of thought. Helvetius, 
preceding the devolution, is but a learned and lengthened ex- 
positor of the philosophy contained in the " Maxims." Roche- 
foucauld was one of the founders of the Revolution, for his 
work was that of a leveler. His descendant, like himself a 
philosopher, accepted the Revolution, cheerfully renounced his 
titles of noblesse, and was appointed to the Presidency of the 
De23artment of Paris. It is easy to resign the titles of a duke 
— difficult to get rid of the honor of a gentleman. Quoth one 
of the patriots with whom he linked himself, "This ci-devant 
is of a virtue too troublesome" [c'est une vertu tvop incom- 
onode). Accordingly, the descendant of the author of the 
" Maxims" was doomed, and massacred in the sight, almost in 
the arms, of his wife and mother ; tragic and practical illustra- 
tion of the dogma which the great duke had impressed on the 
mind of his country: "ies vertus se perdent dans Vintertt^ 
comme lesfleuves se per dent dans la merP Certainly it is not 
in~ the " Maxims" of Rochefoucauld that we would search for 
doctrines which make chivalry poetically heroic and democra- 
cy poetically humane. When Alphonse Lamartine, by an im- 
mortal speech, in wdiich there is no wit and no sparkle, struck 
down to his feet the red flag, we recognize intuitively the dif- 
ference between the maxim-maker's knowledge of the conven- 
tional world and the poet-orator's knowledge of the universal 
human heart. Honor to Alphonse Lamartine for his knowl- 
edge of the heart in that moment which saved the dignity of 
France and the peace of Europe, no matter what were his de- 
fects in tlie knowledge of the world — defects by which rulers 
destined to replace him learned to profit ! Honor to that one 
triumph of poetry put into action ! 

Q2 



370 KNOWLEDGE Oi'' THE WOULD. 

I have spoken of Knowledge of the World, in the current 
meaning of the phrase, as superficial — the knowledge of a so- 
ciety which is to the world what the surface is to the sea. 
But that definition is not always correct ; for knowledge of 
the world in Kochefoucauld, and writers akin to him, even in- 
cluding La Bruyere (who, like all plagiarists of real genius, 
has rendered original what he plagiarized, and, copying from 
the skeleton - outlines of Theophrastus, has made the cojjy 
worth a million times more than the picture it honors by copy- 
ing) — knowledge of the world in Kochefoucauld and La Bru- 
yere is knowledge that can not be called shallow — it wants 
breadth rather than depth. In proportion to its width it is 
profound. It does not skim over the sea, but it does fathom 
to the base of the cistern, and does ascend to the height of the 
spray, in an artificial fountain. On the other hand, our own 
Horace "Walpole's knowledge of the world is much more ex- 
pansive than that of St. Simon or Rochefoucauld, and is much 
less deep in proportion to its width. It takes a more varied 
survey of manners and humors, embracing more of the active 
and serious employments of that life Avhicli is not spent in pa- 
trician salons and royal anterooms. It sports, indeed, with the 
appropriate airiness of a well-born wit over the fragile charac- 
ters of its Lady Betties and Lord Jessamies ; it has its famil- 
iar entree into the circle set apart for j^rinces of the blood ; but 
it is at home in a world on the other side of the Coteries ; it 
has a polite acquaintance with the arts which embellish our 
universal humanity ; it has its familiar chit-chat with the grave 
interests and the solemn passions by whose alternate action 
and repulsion Freedom maintains its poise; it comjjrehends 
the truth as notable in political as in physical science, viz., that 
large bodies attract the smaller, and by the smaller are them- 
selves attracted. Horace Walpole illustrates his knowledge 
of the world by anecdote and witticism, by the authority of 
his own empirical opinion, by a fancy so wanton and discursive 
that it can not fail to be sometimes just, but he never fatigues 
liimself by seeking, like Rochefoucauld, to dissect and analyze. 
He prides himself on being frivolous, and if he is wise, he takes 
care to tell you that he is only so for his own amusement. We 
can not dispute his knowledge of the world in breadth of sur- 
face, as we may do that of the French court-philosophers; but 
he very rarely dives to the depth which they explore, though 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOKLD. 371 

it be but tlie depth of a garden fountain. ISTot actuated by 
any earnest desire of abstract truth in his survey of things, he 
is not likely to be scrujDulously accurate in his dolineations of 
persons ; and in these his native penetration and his acquired 
experience are often warped and distorted by spite, spleen, 
party antipathies, family grudges, and still more often by the 
love of scandal, which is the normal characteristic of an intel- 
lectual gossip. TVe can not look on his portraitures of con- 
temjDoraneous characters even with the qualified respect which 
we attach to those in the Memoirs of St. Simon. They do not 
belong to a historical gallery, but they have their price as a 
portfolio of brilliant caricatures by an artist who might have 
done much better. Finally, we may doubt whether Horace 
Walpole's knowledge of the world conduced to his own moral 
well-being ; whether if, in youth, he had immured himself in a 
college, like Gray — devoted himself, like Gray, to earnest 
study, and the patient contemplation of those forms of art 
which, as a fashionable virtuoso, he only designed to regard as 
toys for rococo cabinets — he might not have disciplined his 
unquestionable genius to much nobler exercise, and cultivated 
into richer fertility those manly affections of which he proved, 
by his friendship for Conway, and his reverence for his father's 
memory, that he was not constitutionally barren. Remote 
from the world that he paints in such brilliant water-colors, he 
might have filled his heart and his mind with less old-maidish 
fondnesses than he conceived, amid swarms of human fellow- 
creatures, for a long-haired poodle and a Gothic reliquary. 

Knowledge of the world, in the conventional sense which is 
given to the phrase, is rarely exhibited by poets, either in their 
writings or their lives. It is only intellects of a much higher 
order than sufiices for those combinations of melodious sound, 
delicate fancies, or tender sentiments, by which poets can 
achieve lovely and immortal names, that seize and cultivate 
into fruit or flower such germs of poetry as lie deep-hidden 
beneath the trodden soils of commonplace and matter-of-fact. 
Knowledge of the world, as a man of the world comprehends 
it, does in itself belong rather to the prose than to the poetry 
of life. There seems, indeed, to most poets, something antag- 
onistic to poetic fancies, reveries, and contemplations in the 
study of conventional manners — in the intimate acquaintance 
with the fashions and frivolities of the Court and the Town — 



•372 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOKLD. 

in the analysis of the ovJhiary motives of prosaic claaracters— 
• in the business of their idleness, the idleness of their business. 
It is only a poet of immense grasp and range that, seizing on 
all these material elements of earth, carries them aloft into his 
upper air, held there in solution, as the atmosphere above us 
holds the metals and the gases, and calling them forth at his 
easy will, to become tangible and visible, through luminous 
golden vapor ; as, at the magic of the chemist, gases burst into 
light from the viewless space; or, in a ray of the sun, are dis- 
covered the copper and the iron which minister to our most 
familiar uses. 

It is certainly not the least marvelous property of Shak- 
speare's genius that he takes up into his poetry elements that 
seem essentially to belong to prose, and gives them back in 
jDoetic forms, yet preserving all the practical value which plain 
good sense could give them in prose the most logically severe. 
In his aphorisms, he includes the worldly shrewdness, the fine 
observation of positive life, of conventional manners, which 
constitute the merit of the Rochefoucaulds, LaBruyeres, Wal- 
poles. Nothing can be less like their prose than his poetry ; 
but his poetry embraces the happiest particles of the genius 
which places their prose among our classics. In the wide 
range of his characters he comprises the airy, fine gentleman, 
the subtle politician, the courtier, the fop — the types of those 
in whom the man of the world recognizes the familiars from 
whom he derives his experience. What knowledge of the 
world — unsurpassed by those who are its oracles of our own 
day in the clubs of London' and Paris — playfully blazes out in 
his Falstafi^, his Mercutio ! With what delicate and finished 
mastery of character, formed by the influence of the actual 
world, the hypocrisy of Angelo is shadowed forth and recon- 
ciled to the qualities that had made him tenacious of repute 
for inflexible justice and rigid virtue ! Compare Shakspeare's 
Angelo with Moliere's Tartufl^e — both admirable portraitures ; 
but the first is the portraiture by a psychologist, the second 
the portraiture by a satirist. There is no satire in Angelo — 
very little satire in Shakspeare's habitual employment of his 
genius ; for satire is, in reality, too akin to prose views of life 
for Shakspeare's transmutation of prose into poetry. But 
whatever satire aims at in the Tartufle is included and fused 
in the conception of Angelo ; and so it is with Shakspeare gen- 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE "WOELD. 373 

ei'ully. As satire consists in the exaggeration of some alleged 
vice or folly, to the ignoring of other components in the moral 
being of the individual satirized, until the individual is reduced 
almost to an abstraction of the idea Avhfch the satirist wishes 
to hold up to scorn, and a Tartuffe becomes less a hypocritical 
man tlian an allegoric personification of hypocrisy, so, on the 
contrary, with Shakspeare, the one dominant passion, humor, 
or moral quality of the character, is generally softened and 
shaded ofl" into various other tints ; and it is through the en- 
tire system and complicated functions of the living man that 
the dominating idea winds and undulates — a living man, and 
not an automaton which an ingenious mechanician sets in move- 
ment for the purpose of exhibiting a philosophical idea that he 
desires to make scientifically clear to vulgar comprehension. 
It is for this reason that Shakspeare, in his tragedy, so remark- 
ably preserves the intellectual freedom of hi-s criminal charac- 
ters. As Hegel well remarks, it is not the witches who lead 
Macbeth on to his crimes — it is the sinful desires to which the 
witches only give an utterance that at first dismays him ; and 
it is also for this reason that Shakspeare is so genial in his 
comedy, and, being so genial, so exquisitely forgiving. That 
he should not only let oiF, but actually reward, an Angelo, is a 
violation of the vulgar laws of poetical justice. But Shak- 
speare's sovereign knowledge of the world, instead of making 
him cynical and austere, makes him charitable and gentle. 
Perhaps because he lived in a very grand age, in which, amid 
much that, Avhile human nature lasts, will be eternally bad and 
low, there were, nevertheless, astir all the noblest elements 
which modern society has called into play. There was still 
the valiant spirit of chivalry, divested of its savage rudeness, 
retaining its romantic love of adventure, its nnselfish loyalty, 
its ineflable dignity, its poetic delicacy of sentiment and high- 
bred courtesy of bearing. Shakspeare was the contemporary 
of Spenser. But there was also astir in the Avorld — not yet 
divorced from the courtly graces, not yet narrowed into puri- 
tanical fanaticism — the sublime conception of a freedom for 
opinion and conscience, destined to create a heroism more 
intense and more earnest than knighthood's. Shakspeare's 
"Tempest" Avas the precursor of Milton's "Comus." Shak- 
speare had not only the advantage of living in a very great 
and energetic age, but the still greater advantage, for the se- 



374 KNOWLEDGE OF TUB WORLD. 

reno and angerless contemplation of human infirmities, of liv- 
ing in an age in wbicli the conflicting passions between the old 
and the new heroisms of thought Avere not yet let loose; when 
men, in their zeal for*a cause or a principle, were not inflamed 
into a heat that destroyed all philosophical judgment of the 
men who differed from them. It was not only a great age, 
but :! conciliatory age ; and Shakspearo, in expressing it, is as 
conciliatory as he is great. This was impossible to the Poet 
of that after age, also great, but violently aggressive and an- 
tagonistic, which 

"Was with its stored thunder laboring up." 

Who could have divined in the beautiful dreamy youth of 
Milton the destined champion of fanatics to whom the Muses 
and the Graces were daughters of Belial? who could have 
supposed that out of such golden platonisms, such lovely fan- 
cies, such dulcet concords of all pastoral, chivalrous, courtly, 
scholastic melodies, as meet and ravish us away from each un- 
gentle thought in " Comus" and " L' Allegro," "II Penseroso," 
"Lycidas," "Arcadia," would rise the inflexible wrathful gen- 
ius that became the vindicator of Charles's regicide, the eulo- 
gist of Cromwell's usurpation ? Happy that, surviving the age 
of strife, that majestic spirit is last seen on earth, nearer in age 
than even in youth to the gates of heaven, and, no longer fier- 
cest in the war of Christian against Christian, blending all the 
poetries of Christendom itself in that wondrous hymn, com- 
pared to which Tasso's song is but a dainty lay, and even 
Dante's verse but a Gothic mystery. 

To return to Shakspeare. In that world which he knew so 
well, there were not only the Spensers, the Sidneys, the Ra- 
leighs, and the magnificent image of Elizabeth crowning all, 
and, to the infinite disgrace of Englishmen, of late years de- 
posed from her throne of Gloriana, and reduced by small histo- 
rians and shallow critics to the level of a Catharine of Russia — 
there was also the Francis Bacon who revolutionized all the sys- 
tems of practical science; and, far less known (be that also to 
the shame of Englishmen), the John Davics, beyond whom no 
metaphysician of the immaterial or spiritual school, including 
its great reformers, the Scotch, with Peid — its jiesthetic embel- 
lislicrs and logicians, with Kant — its accomplished, rhetorical, 
eloquent embellisliers, Avith Victor Cousin, has advanced, any 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOELD. 375 

more than Fava Jay, Frankhofer, Stokes, Brewster, Kirchhoif 
have advanced from Newton, in tracing the nature of the solar 
light. Contemporaneous with Shakspeare, also, were those 
awful politicians — far, indeed, from being scrupulously philan- 
thropical, far from being morally spotless — Walsingham and 
either Cecil ; but who, in practical statesmanship — who, in the 
knowledge of which Themistocles boasted — " the knowledge 
how to make small states great" — towered aloft over even a 
Raleigh and a Bacon. It is by the light of such an age that 
we can alone read adequately a Shakspeare, who, in his mere 
playful supererogatory knowledge of the world, comprehended 
them all, and fused, in his loving verse, every discord in their 
various wisdom. 

What has most struck me in comparing, I do not say Shak- 
speare's genius, for that is incomparable, but his practical wis- 
dom, with the poets of his time, has been less his metai^hysical 
depth and subtlety in discovering some latent truth amid the 
complicated folds of the human mind, than the ease with which 
he adapts his metaphysical acuteuess to his practical views of 
life ; in short, his knowledge of man individually, wondrous as 
it is, seems to me less exclusively and transcendently his own 
than his combination of knowledge of men individually, and of 
the world collectively, and his fusion of both kinds of knowl- 
edge into poetic form, which has its approjDriate place in the 
entire composition, and is not merely a detached and occasional 
felicity of diction ; for if we look at his contemporaries, and es- 
pecially the later ones, there are few attributes they have more 
in common than a love for metaphysical reflection upon man 
in "the abstract, couched in vivid poetry of expression. Pas- 
sages of this kind abound in Beaumont and Fletcher; still 
more in the richer genius of Massinger, whose main fault, per- 
haps, lies in an overfondness for metaphysical research in the 
creation of exceptional characters influenced by exceptional 
motives, and a lavish beauty of expression, which is often in- 
harmonious to the displeasing nature of the action. This fam- 
ily resemblance is perhaps less salient in Jonson than in the 
other great dramatists of thej^ime; but even in him it is sufli- 
ciently strong. The prevalent taste in the age of a great writer 
who may be regarded as its highest type is perhaps, however, 
best seen in the taste of the younger generation formed in his 
school, and among writers of the lesser order of genius, which 



376 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 

reflects the earlier genius that overshadows it. Daniel, Hab- 
ington, Davenant, have wonderful lines here and there, com- 
bining, in the Shakspearian sjnrit, an abstract philosophical 
thought with exquisite poetry of form. Such as this descrip- 
tion of Justice : 

~~ " Clear-eyed Astrtea 

Comes Mith her balance and her sword, to show 
That first her judgment weighs before it strilces." 

Daniel's " Goddesses." 

Or this fine discrimination between political perils : 

"Each small breatli 
Disturbs the quiet of poor shallow waters, 
But winds must arm tliemselves ere the large sea 
Is seen to tremble." — Habixgton's " Queen of Aragon." 

Or this striking illustration of the fear whicli accompanies and 
betokens ardent love : 

" Flame trembles most when it doth highest rise." 

Sir W. Dayenant's " The Man's the Master." 

Observe the metaphysical depth in the lines I am about to 
subjoin from May,* and consider how much the thought they 
embody has served to furnish forth arguments in defense of 
miracles urged at this day. 

' ' Nor let us say some things 'gainst Nature be, 
Because such things as those we seldom see. 
"We know not wliat is natural, but call 
Those acts which God does often — natural. 

"Where, if we weighed with a religious eye 
The power of doing — not t\i.e frequency — 
All things alike in strangeness to our thought 
Would be, which He in the creation wrought ; 
But in those rare and wondrous things may we 
The freedom of that great Creator see. 

"When He at first the course of things ordained, 
And Nature within certain bounds restrained, 
That laws of seeds and seasons may be known. 
He did not then at all confine His own 

* May was about twenty-one when Sfiakspeare died. It was the genera- 
tion preceding his own in which his youth learned to think, and it is the 
spirit of that epoch of thought which speaks in the verses cited — a spirit that 
underwent a notable change in the revolutionary epoch during which Slay's 
later manhood acted its inconsistent and passionate part. 



• KNOWLEDGE OP THE WOKLD. 377 

Almighty power ! But, wheresoe'er^He will, 
Works 'gainst the common course of Nature still." 

May's "iJewr?///." 

I think that every stucleut of intellectual philosophy will al- 
low that there must have been an immense amount of meta- 
physical, and even of psychological knowledge afloat in the at- 
mosphere of an age in which so poor a poet, in point of genius 
and form, as that I have quoted, could embody such refinement 
and depth of reasoning in verses that certainly are not inspired. 

The two Avriters, in the full noon of the Shaksi^earian era, 
to whom we should be least disposed to look for sentences 
rich in abstract philosophy (always except Sj^enser, in whom 
philosophy, where found, as completely forgets its purpose, in 
allegorical fancies and melodious roundelays, as a bee may for^ 
get its hive amid the honeys of Ilymettus), are Phihp Sidney, 
the court darling, and Lilye, the fashionable euphuist. Yet, 
even in his romance of " Arcadia," Sidney has depths and 
reaches of thought Avhich may suffice to show what tributary 
rivulets were feeding the sea of Shakspeare. Lilye was pre- 
eminently the fashionable literary fop of his splendid age; but 
still Lilye, if he be compared with a fashionable novelist or 
play-writer of our time, in Paris or London, becomes instantly 
entitled to a considerable degree of respect. The " Euphues" 
devoured by courtiers and maids of honor is enough to show 
how high a standard of intellectual eminence was required by 
the most frivolous portion of the reading public of that majes- 
tic day. Its pervading vice is, that it pushes into extravagant 
caricature Shakspeare's own greatest faiilt, viz., the excess of 
wit in verbal conceit ; but strip the sense of that verbal con- 
ceit, and the substance left is robust and masculine. It abounds 
with materials for fine thinking in spite of a style so opposed 
to good writing; and that a work in which a schoolman's eru- 
dition is employed in selecting the pithy sayings and subtle 
conjectures of ancient philosophers should have become the 
rage with light readers of fasliion, is a j^roof how much the 
taste for philosophizing had become the taste of the age. 

In Shakspeare's day, then, the tendency to science and met- 
aphysical speculation was marked and general, and his own 
fondness for it is explained by tlie spirit of his time. But he 
stands distinct from contemporaneous writers of imagination 
in this, that his science of mail's nature in the abstract is so 



378 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOELD. ♦ 

wonclrously enriched and vivified by knowledge of the world, 
exhibited not only in profound aphorisms, but in vivid imper- 
sonations through created characters in every class and grade 
of life ; and of the latter knowledge there is very little trace 
in hiSvContempoi'aries — very little trace, I venture to think, 
even in Jonson and Beaumont and Fletcher. Probably his 
personal intimacies assisted to the perfection of his delineations 
of the manners and mind of the being we call gentleman — of 
a Bassano, a Gratiano, a Benedick, an Orlando, a Mercutio, etc.; 
not to speak of the incomparable art with which he retains to 
Falstafi", in spite of all the fat knight's rogueries, the character 
of the Avit who has equality with princes. FalstafF is never 
vulgar. And if Shakspeare, when not dealing with the desti- 
nies of tragedy, is so indulgent to his faulty characters — not 
only to Angelo, the sanctimonious dissembler, but to Bertram, 
the faithless lover — Olivei*, the unnatural elder brother — Pro- 
teus, the treacherous friend — it is because Tiis knowledge of 
the woi'ld, in its survey of mankind on the whole, softens into 
an artistic charity the penetration with which he detects the 
vice of man in the abstract. And, doubtless, I say, the age in 
which he lived contributed to engender and justify this charity 
of judgment; for in its juncture between the license of chival- 
ric manners and the severer morality which the Reformation 
and the new-born study of the sacred writings were destined 
to introduce, and in the struggle visible among the highest na- 
tures of the time and land between the old ISTorthern principle 
of honor and the seductive brilliancies of Italian craft, there 
%oas, in the characters of men of the world, a singular mixture 
of qualities fair and noble and qualities foul and mean, the 
mixture being sustained by a third element of intellectual ac- 
tivity or poetic grace. Without entering into the controversy 
as to the just estimate of Lord Bacon's character — which, I 
think, however, is much too harsMy depreciated by Lord Ma- 
caulay — I content myself with referring to his advice to Lord 
Essex, in the letter of the 4th of October, 1596, how "to win 
the Queen," as sufficing to show the extent to which Machia- 
velian policy was in that day admitted as blameless into En- 
glish counsel. For certainly Bacon, in that letter, is altogeth- 
er unconscious that he is recommending a systematic duplicity 
and simulation unworthy the adoption of a high-minded noble; 
nor is there any evidence that Essex himself, though he might 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 379 

reject the advice, resented it as dislionorable ; yet as certainly 
there is not a tr^ie gentleman nowadays who could receive 
such a letter from a distinguished friend without a blush for 
himself and his adviser ; for the whole purport of the letter is 
to recommend this knight and soldier to seem Avhat he is not 
— to make his very nature a lie. Pretend, pretend, pretend, 
is the moral of each wily recommendation. He is to pretend 
to resemble the very men whom both he and his adviser de- 
spise : " whereof I have noted you to fly and avoid, in some 
respect justly, the resemblance or imitation of my Lord Leices- 
ter or my Lord Chancellor Hatton ; yet I am persuaded, how- 
soever I wish your lordship as distant as you are from them in 
points of form, integrity, magnanimity, and merit, that it will 
do you much good between the queen and you to allege them, 
as often as you find occasion^ for authors and patterns ; for I 
do not knoAV a readier mean to make her majesty think you 
are in the right way." 

Again : " Your lordship should never be without some par- 
ticulars afoot which you should seem to pursue with earnest- 
ness and affection, and then let them fall upon tahing Jaioiol- 
edge of her majesty's opposition and disUlyeP He is to push 
this insincerity even into bad faith to his own friends and 
partisans, " of Avhich (particulars) the weightiest sort may be, 
if yoijr lordship offer to labor on the behalf of some that you 
favor for some of the places now void, choosing such a subject 
as you thinlx, her majesty is like to oppose unto. And if you 
will say this is conjunctum cum cdiena injuria, I will not an- 
swer, HcGc non cditer constcdtunt ; but I say, commendation 
from so good a mouth does not peril a man, though you pre- 
vail not." A poor salvo to the conscience of a patron for hold- 
ing out to trustful clients hopes that he knows are false, and 
a poor satisfaction to tlie client to receive commendation from 
the mouth, with the premeditated design to " be let fall" by 
the hand. 

Again : "A less Aveighty sort of particulars may be \\\Q.pi'e- 
tense of some journeys Avhich, at her majesty's request, you 
might relinquish; and the lightest sort of particulars, which 
which are yet not to be neglected, are in your habits, apparel, 
wearings, gestures^ and the like." 

In short, from the greatest to the least " particular," the 
man is to be one pretense: "You &\\^\\ p)retend to be as book- 



380 KNOWLEDGE OF THE AVOKLD. 

isli and contemplative as ever you were. Wheveimto I add 
one expedient more, stronger than all the re:^, and, for my own 
confident opinion, void of any prejudice or danger of diminu- 
tion of your greatness, and that is, the bringing in of some 
martial man to be of the Council, dealing directly with her 
majesty in it, as for her service and your better assistance; 
choosing^ oievertheless, some 2^Grson that may he hiown not to 
come in against you by any former division. I judge the 
fittest to be my Lord Mountjoy or ray Lord Willougliby. 
And if your lordship see deeplier into it than I do, that you 
would oiot have it done in effect, you may serve your turn by 
the pretense of it, and stay it, nevertheless.'''' 

Again: "The third impression is of a popular reputation, 
which, because it is a thing good of itself, being obtained as 
your lordship obtaiuetli it — that is, bonis artibus — and, besides 
well governed, is one of the best flowers of your greatness, 
both present and to come, it would be handled tenderly. The 
only Avay is to quench it verbis, and not rebus ; and, therefore, 
to take all occasions to sj^eaJc against popidarity and popular 
courses vehemently, and to tax it in all others, but, nevertheless., 
to go on in your honorable commonwecdth courses as you do?'' 

Now, judged by the morality of our day, we should say 
that a man following these counsels would be a contemptible 
hypocrite and a very dangerous citizen ; but in an age where 
court favor is the first object of political ambition, morality is 
of a more accommodating temper. To me, this letter to Es- 
sex contains the true key to Lord Bacon's character and con- 
duct in matters relating to the world ; it is, in its own way, 
very wise, and in any way it is very mean. It shows where 
Bacon's knowledge of the world was profound, and also where 
it ran into perilous shallows beset with rocks and shoals. It 
explains the rules by which he shaped his OAvn career and sul- 
lied his own honor ; how he came to rise so high and to fall 
so low. It seems also to justify, on the score of wisdom, the 
meanness of his supplicatory attitude after his fall. I believe 
his self-humiliation was more a pretense than a reality; that 
he did for himself what he had recommended to Essex — sought 
to seem rather than to be. An abject bearing was the best 
means to his end, which'was to retrieve as far as possible the 
eifects of his reverse. His lowliness was Ambition's ladder. 
The more he seemed bowed down with penitent shame, the 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 381 

more he converted tlie wrath even of ]iis enemies into com- 
passion. And the conrse lie adopted in this seeming self- 
abasement proved its merely worldly sagacity. Step after 
step he began to rearise. His fine was released — the rest of 
his punishment remitted — he reappeared at court — he was re- 
admitted to the House of Lords — his piteous importunities for 
his pension were successful — he got from the government his 
£1200 a year. All that his wisdom saw it possible to effect 
after such a reverse, he effected through the meanness which 
perhaps was not constitutional with him, but an essential ele- 
ment of that which, in dealings with the world, he conceived 
to be wisdom. It is not true, as Mr. Basil Montagu and'others 
Avould have us believe, that he did nothing which the contem- 
poraries who condemned" him really thought wrong ; but it is 
also not true that what he did was thought wrong in the 
codes of that wily Italian school of policy in which Bacon's 
youth had been trained. In the Cecil Correspondence, men 
of the greatest name and the purest repute exhibit a laxity of 
sentiment in what we now call honor, and a servile greediness 
for what Avere then called honors, which Avould not, in our 
time, be compatible with dignity of mind and elevation of 
character. But in that day such contrasts were compatible. 
Far from being worse or lower types of our kind in the age 
of Elizabeth than ambition exhibits now, the men of that age 
may rather be said to have joined meannesses which no ordi- 
nary mean man nowadays will avow, with lofty qualities of 
heart, and intellect, and courage which no man, ordinarily 
noble, nowadays can rival. And thus it was that, in analyzing 
the springs of conduct, and sufficiently showing his condemna- 
tion of vice in the abstract, Shakspeare so mercifully, in his 
mixed characters, awards judgment on the outward fate of the 
offender, and so tenderly iiaevges the hard law of poetic justice 
into the soft humanity of poetic love, dealing with such char- 
acters as if they were indeed his children, and he could not 
find it in his father's heart to devote to the avenging Furies 
the erring offspring he had born into the temptations of the 
world. 

It seems to me that, among modern poets, Goethe ranks 
next to Shakspeare, at however wide an interval, in the combi- 
nation of abstract, metaphysical speculation, and genial, easy, 
clement knowledge of the actual world. But this latter knowl- 



382 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 

edge is perhaps even less shown in his dramas, poems, and 
novels — works, in short, prepared and designed for publica- 
tion — than in the numerous records which his friends have 
preserved of his pi'ivate correspondence and conversations. 
In the course of these Essays I have frequently quoted his say- 
ings — perhaps somewhat too frequently; but they have been 
nearly always taken from such personal records, little known 
to English readers, and not very generally known even to Ger- 
mans, and there is scarcely a subject connected with the great 
interests of the world, whether in art, literature, politics, or in 
the more trivial realm of worldly manners, on which some 
shrewd, wise, or playful observation of Goethe's does not spon- 
taneously occur to me as. pertinent, and throwing a gleam of 
new light on topics the most trite or familiar. What Goethe 
himself thought of the world he knew so well, and in which 
he won so lofty a vantage-ground of survey, is j^erhaps suffi- 
ciently shown in the following remark, Avhicli is made with his 
characteristic union of na'lvete and irony : " The immortality 
of the age is a standing topic of complaint with some men ; 
but if any one likes to be moral, I can see nothing in the age 
to prevent him." 

I may add anotlier of his aphorisms, which hints the expla- 
nation of his own lenient views of life : " Great talents are es- 
sentially conciliatory." And again : " Age makes us tolerant. 
I never see a fault which I did not myself commit." 

Goethe, like Shakspeare, lived in a great and energetic time. 
His life comprehends that era in the intellectual history of his 
country which, for sudden, startling. Titan-like development of 
forces, has no parallel, unless it be in the outbreak of Athenian 
genius during the century following the Persian war. A lan- 
guage which, though spoken by vast populations in the central 
heart of Europe, had not hitherto been admitted among the 
polite tongues of civilized utterance — which the very kings of 
the Fatherland had banished from their coxu'ts — which was ig- 
nored by the literati of colleges and capitals, as if the Germa- 
ny which gave to a sovereign the title of the Cresars was still 
the savage dwelling-place of the worshipers of Herman; a lan- 
guage thus deemed a barbarous dialect amid the polished 
tongues of neighboring populations, suddenly leaped into a 
rank beside those of Italy, England, France, furnishing poets, 
dramatists, critics, reviewers, philosophers, scholars, in dazzling 



KNOWLEDGE OP THE WOELD, 383 

and rapid fertility, and becoming hencefortli and evermore a 
crowded store-house of the massiest ingots of intellectual treas- 
ure, and the most finished ornaments of inventive art. 

Amid these founders of a national literature, if Goethe be 
not indeed the earliest, he ajDpears to be so in the eyes of for- 
eigners, because his form is so towering that it obscures the 
images of his precursors ; and his scope was so vast, his ac- 
quirements so various, that almost every phase of that intellec- 
tual splendor which surrounds him found on one side or other 
of his genius a luminiferous reflector, giving back the light 
which it took in. His knowledge of the world was tolerant 
and mild as Shakspeare, partly from the greatness of the na- 
tional epoch in which the world presented itself to his eye, 
partly from the prosperous fortunes which the world accorded 
to his taste for the elegance and the dignity of social life, and 
partly, also, from his OAvn calm, artistic temperament, which 
led him, perhaps somewhat overmuch, to regard the vices or 
virtues of other men as the painter regards the colors which 
he mingles in his pallet — with passionless study of his own ef- 
fects of light and shade. This want of indignation for the 
bad, this want of scorn for the low, this want of enthusiasm 
for the good, and this want of worship for the heroic, have 
been much dwelt uj)on by his adversaries or depredators; 
and the charge is not Avithout some foundation when confined 
to him as artist, but it does not seem just when applied to him 
as man. "When, through his private correspondence and con- 
versation, we approach to his innermost thoughts, we are some- 
what startled to discover the extent of his enthusiasm for all 
that is genuinely lofty, and all, therefore, that is upright, hon- 
est, and sincere. It is this respect for a moral beauty and sub- 
limity apart from the artistic, which made him so reverent an 
admirer of Lessing — this which rendered so cordial his aj^pre- 
ciation of the heroic element in Schiller. It was this which 
made him so hostile to pai'odies and travesties. "My only 
reason for hating them," says he, "is because they lower the 
beautiful, noble, and great, in order that they may annihilate 
it." It is this which, in spite of his frequent and grave defects 
in orthodoxy, made him so thoroughly comprehend the relig- 
ious truth which he has so resolutely expressed. "Art is 
based on a strong sentiment of religion : it is a profound and 
mighty earnestness ; hence it is so prone to co-operate with 



3-84 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 

religion." Again : " Art is a severe business ; most serious 
. wlien employed in grand and sacred objects. The artist stands 
higher than art, higher than the object. He uses art for his 
purposes, and deals with the object after his own fashion." 

Goethe dealt with this art after his own fashion — a fashion 
not to be commended to any one less than Goethe. He says 
somev/here, " Cesser taught me that the ideal of beauty is sim- 
plicity and tranquillity." That maxim is true, but only to a 
certain extent, viz., so far as affects form or style; and it is 
only through his smaller poems, and perhaps in his dramas of 
"Iphigenia" and "Tasso," that Goethe carries out the princi- 
ple of composition it inculcates. In the works which give him 
his European celebrity, simplicity and tranquillity are the last 
qualities we detect. It is not these merits that impress the 
reading world in "Wer'ter" and "Faust." In truth, ideal 
beauty not only requires a great deal more than simplicity and 
tranquillity, but can exist without being either simple or tran- 
quil. The milkmaids whom I now see out of my window are 
simple and tranquil, but they are certainly not beautiful. But 
if the tragedy of " Othello," as a work of art, is ideally beau- 
tiful, which no Englishman can deny, nothing can be less sim- 
ple than the character of lago, and Othello himself becomes 
poetically beautiful in proportion as he ceases to be tranquil. 
The fact is, that the intellect of poetry requires not simple, but 
very complex thoughts, sentiments, emotions ; and the passion 
of poetry abhors tranquillity. There is, no doubt, a poetry 
which embodies only the simple and the tranquil, but it is 
never the highest kind. Poetry is not sculpture; sculpture 
alone, of all the arts, is highest where the thought it embodies 
is the most simple, and the passion it addresses, rather than 
embodies, is the most tranquil. Thus, in sculpture, the Far- 
nese Hercules rests from his labors, and bears in his arras a _ 
helpless child ; thus the Belvidere Apollo has discharged his 
deathful arrow, and watches its effect with the calmness of a 
scorn assured of triumph. But neither of these images could 
suggest a poem of the highest order, viz., a narrative m- a 
drama ; in such poems we must have the struggle of the mmd, 
and the restless history of the passion. But Goethe's art was 
not dramatic ; lie himself tells us so, Avith his characteristic 
and sublime candor. He tells us truly that " tragedy deals 
with contradictions, and to contradictions his genius is op- 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 385 

posed ;" he adds as truly, that, from the philosophical turn of 
his mind, he " motivates" too much for the stage. That which 
preveuts his attaining, as a dramatist, his native rank as a poet, 
still more operates against Goethe as a novehst. Regarded 
solely as a novelist, his earliest novel, " Werter," is the only 
one that has had a marked effect upon his age, and is the only 
one that will bear fovorable comparison with the chefs-cTceiivre 
of France and England. " Wilhelm Meister" is the work of a 
much riper mind ; but, as a story designed to move popular 
interest, it as little resembles an artistic novel as " Comus" or 
" Sampson Agonistes" resembles an acted drama. But through 
all the various phases of Goethe's marvelous intellect there 
runs an astonishing knowledge of the infirmities of man's na- 
ture, and therefore a surpassing knowledge of the world. He 
can not, like Shakspeare, lift that knowledge of the world so 
easily into the realm of poetic beauty as to accord to infirmity 
its due proportion, and no more. He makes a hero of a Clavijo 
— Shakspeare would have reduced a Clavijo into a subordinate 
character ; he makes of a Mephistopheles a prince of hell — 
Shakspeare would have made of Mephistopheles a mocking 
philosopher of " earth, most earthy." But knowledge of the 
world in both these mighty intellects was supreme — in both 
accompanied with profound metaphysical and psychological 
science — in both represented in exquisite poetical form ; and 
if in this combination Goethe be excelled by ShaksjDcare, I know 
not where else, in imaginative literature, we are to look for his 
superior. 

I have said that I think a Juvenal, a Rochefoucauld, a Hor- 
ace Walpole were not rendered better and nobler, and there- 
fore wiser men, in the highest sense of the word wisdom, by 
their intimate knowledge of the world they lived in. This is 
not to be said of a Shaksj)eare or a Goethe. They were not 
satirists nor cynics. They were so indulgent that scarcely a 
man living dare be as indulgent as they were ; and they were 
indulgent from the same reasons : 1st. The grandeur of the age 
in which they lived ; 2d. The absence of all acrid and arro- 
gant self-love, and of all those pharisaical pretensions to an 
austerity of excellence high above the average composite of 
good and evil in ordinary mortals, which grows out of the 
inordinate admiration of self, or the want of genial sym- 
pathy for the infirmities of others, and the charitable con- 

R 



386 KNOAVLEDGl-: OF THE AVOELD. 

sideratiou of tlie influence of circumstance u]Don human con- 
duct. 

There is a class of writers in poetry and belles-lettres in which 
what we call Knowledge of the World is more immediately 
recognized, because it is more sharply defined, than it is with 
the two great poets last mentioned. It is less fused in poetic 
fancy, it is less characterized by metaphysical subtlety, it is 
less comprehensive in its range, but it has more singleness of 
eftect and trans2:)arency of purpose. Of this class, English lit- 
erature furnishes brilliant types throughout the whole of the 
eighteenth century. Pope and Addison are conspicuously 
men of the Avorld in their favorite modes of thought and forms 
of expression. Like most men of the w^orld, it is in the school 
of a metropolis that they ground their studies of mankind ; 
the urban life rather than the rural attracts their survey and 
stimulates their genius. Pope, indeed, is comparatively insip- 
id and commonplace when he is the mere observer of rural na- 
ture, or the interpreter of those sentiments and emotions which 
rural nature excites in its familiar lovers. He is essentially 
the poet of capitals, and his knowledge of the world, like that 
of the class of poets among which he is perhaps the prince, is 
rather to be called knowledge of the town.* It is thus that, 

* In the controversy between Bowles and liis adversaries as to Pope's stand- 
ard among poets, each party mistook or misapprehended the doctrine of the 
other. CamiDhell, though tlie briefest, is the best refuter of Bowles ; not be- 
cause he was the best critic or the best poet who answered him, but because 
lie was the best poet among the cntics and the best critic among the poets. 
Mr. Bowles says that "the true poet should have an eye attentive to and fa- 
miliar with every change of season, every variation of light and shade of na- 
ture, every walk, every tree, and eveiy leaf in her secret places. He who has 
not an eye to observe them, and who can not with a glance distinguish every 
line on their variety, must be so far deficient in one of the essential qualities 
of a poet." 

Now every genuine poet and every sensible critic knows that in writing 
these sentences Mr. Bowles wrote something very like nonsense. And wheth- 
er as poet or critic, Campbell has an easy victory in replying " that this bot- 
anizing perspicuity might be essential to a Dutch flower-garden, but Soph- 
ocles displays no such skill, and yet he is a genuine, a great, and an affect- 
ing poet." Sophocles is no solitary instance. On the other hand, Campbell 
is mistaken in supposing that ho meets .arguments as to the real defect found 
in Pope by better thinkers than Mr. Bowles, in vindicating a choice of im- 
ages drawn from artificial rather than natural objects. In truth, the poet il- 
lustrates from beauty wherever he finds it, in art as in nature. The defect 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 387 

while the most brilliant of all the imitators of Horace, it is 
only to one side of Horace's genius that Pope com-ts compari- 
son. Where Horace is the poet of manners, as in the Epistles 
and Satires, Pope may be said to sm-pass, in his paraplirases, 
the originals from Avhich he draws inspiration. In his own 
Epistles and Satires he has a polish and a point, a delicate fin- 
ish, and an elaborate harmony of verse, which the Latin poet 
did not consider appropriate to that class of composition, but 
Avliich the English jjoet has shown to be embellishing adorn- 
ments. But Pope can never approach Horace in the other 
and diviner side of the Roman's genius. He can not pretend 
to the lyrical playfulness and fire, the mingled irony and earn- 
estness, the tender pathos, the exquisite humanity, the won- 
drous felicity of expression, which render the Odes of Horace 
matchless in the power of charm. He can not, in his Twick- 
enham villa, seize and interpret the poetry of rural life and 
sylvan scenery like the recluse of the Sabine farm. Pope's 
genius, in short, is didactic, not lyrical. He sees no Bacchus 
teaching song to nymphs amid rocks remote ; no cool groves, 
with their spiritual choirs, separate him from the populace; he 
has no Lucretilis for which Faunus exchanges the Arcadian 
hill. But as the painter of urban life, what in modern or per- 
haps in ancient literature can compare in elegance with the 
verse of Pope, unless it be the prose of Addison ? No doubt 
both tliese illustrious Englishmen were much influenced by 

in Pope and writers of his school is not so much in not borrowing allusion 
and description from solitary rural scenes, as in the town-bred affectation of 
patronizing rural nature now and then, and want of sympathy with the ro- 
mance of Nature, and with the contemplative philosophy she inspires. Hor- 
ace speaks of his Sabine valley with a fondness too passionate to allow of an 
appraiser's inventory of details ; just as a lover, when he thinks of his mis- 
tress, finds words to describe the general effect of her beauty on his own 
heart, but no words to describe all her beauties in particular. He would not 
be a lover if he could specify the charms of a mistress as a^ horse-dealer spec- 
ifies the points of a horse. The poet's eye is not '■'■attentive to every varia- 
tion of light and shade of nature, every walk, every tree, every leaf," except 
in those moments when he ceases to be poet, and is not under the poetic in- 
fluences of nature. The poetic influences of nature tend to abstract the 
mind of the poet from external objects — to lull the observant faculties while 
stimulating the reflective or imaginative ; so that it has been said by a great 
critic, "The poet can no more explain how he knows so well the outward as- 
pects of the nature which sets him a dreaming, than he can explain the in- 
terior process by v.hich his genius achieves its masterpieces." 



388 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 

French schools in the culture of their taste and in the forma- 
tion of their style, but in their acceptation of classical models 
it seems to me that they excel the French writers who served 
to form their taste. In the euphony and amenities of style 
the prose of Addison certainly surpasses that of Malebranche, 
whom he is said to have copied ; and though Boileau may 
equal Pope in neatness of finish and sharjmess of wit, he at- 
tains neither to Pope's habitual dignity of manner nor to 
Pope's occasional sweetness of sentiment. 

The English poets preceding the Restoration, when borrow- 
ing from or imitating those of other countries (I do not here 
speak of the models common to all generations of modern wi'it- 
ers to be found in the ancient classics), were xmder Italian in- 
fluences. From Spenser to Milton the study of Italian is visi- 
ble in English poets — French models seem to have been ig- 
nored. Waller is, I think, the first of our poets popularly 
known in whom (except in very loose adaptations of Petrarch) 
the Italian element vanishes ; and though he can not be said 
to have copied the French, yet he is allowed by their own crit- 
ics to have anticipated their poets in that neatness and polish 
by which the French style became noted before the close of 
his long career. In Dryden the ascendency of the French in- 
fluence became notable, though rather in form than in spirit — 
in technical rules than in genuine principles of art ; and even 
on him the influence is struggling and u.ndecided. He accepts 
rhyme as an improvement in tragic verse ; but in this attempt 
he was preceded by Davenant ; and though he studied Cor- 
neille, and often goes beyond him in extravagance of exj)res- 
sion, he never attained to, nor perhaps comprehended, that se- 
cret of Tragic Art which Corueille found less even in the rich- 
ness of his poetic genius than in the sublimity of his moral na- 
ture. Corneille's grandeur as poet was in his grandeur as 
man ; and whether he had written in the finest rhyme or the 
most simple prose, he would have equally stormed his way 
upon an audience so susceptible to heroic sentiment as the 
French ever have been. But whatever Dryden owed to the 
French, he remains strikingly English, and largely indebted to 
English predecessors, from Chaucer to Davenant. In Pope, 
the French element is more pervasive, and more artfully amal- 
gamated Avith the English. He owed much both to "Waller 
and to Dryden, but it was to those characteristics of either 



KNOWLEDGE OP THE AVORLD, 389 

which were most in accordance with French principles of taste. 
He took nothing from the ItaHans ; little from our own writ- 
ers save the two I have named ; nothing from Shakspeare, 
though he comprehended his merit better than Dryden did ; 
nothing from Milton, though in his own day Milton's rank 
among poets first became popularly acknowledged. Where 
he was deemed by his contemporaries to have improved upon 
Di-ydeu, it was in the more complete Frenchification of Dry- 
den's style ; and where, in the finer criticism of our day, he is 
considered less to have improved upon than effeminized Dry- 
den's style, it is in the overnicety of a taste and jDractice which 
refined, into what his French contemporaries would have call- 
ed correctness, the old native freedom of rhythm and cadence, 
that gives to the verse of Dry den its muscular vigor and blithe- 
some swing. But apart from the mere form of verse, a change 
in the very essence of poetry had been made by the influence 
which French literature acquired in Europe in the age of Louis 
XIV. France had become Parisian ; and thus the ui-ban or 
artificial element in the representation of human life superseded 
the rural or natural. This it had never done in the great mas- 
ters of Italian poetry. ISTeither in Dante, nor Petrarch, nor 
Tasso, nor Ariosto — though the last named exhibits the pecul- 
iar knowledge of the world which can only be acquired in the 
converse of capitals — is seen that terse, ej^igrammatic form of 
expression by which the poet of cities desires to reconcile 
"men about town" to the fatigue of reading poetry at all. As 
to our English poets before the time of Dryden, if they have 
one chai'acteristic in common from the highest to the lowest, 
it is their hearty love for rural nature and a country life. 

The urban influence, so strong upon Pope, operated yet 
more potently on the generation that succeeded him. Pope 
would have shrunk from confessing the frank love of urban 
life, with its intellectual excitements, and the scorn of rural 
life, with the disbelief in its calm contemplative delights, which 
Johnson loses no occasion to express. Yet, nevertheless, John- 
son's knowledge of the world is much wider than that knowl- 
edge of the town which sparkles forth with such brilliancy in 
Pope. Johnson's knowledge of town life wants the intimacy 
with those higher ranks of society which were familiar to Pope 
from his youth, and only partially opened to Johnson in his 
maturer years. Nor did his temperament allow him to treat 



390 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOELD, 

those trifles, winch make the sum of human things in the gayer 
circles of a metroi^olis, with the easy elegance of Pope ; yet, 
perhaps, from the very defects in his comprehension of the 
spirit of fashionable life (I mean the spirit which, in all highly 
civilized capitals, ever forms the fashion of an age), Johnson 
excels in his conceptions of the middle class, whether of mind 
or station, and his knowledge of the world has a more robust 
character than Pope's, embracing larger views of practical hu- 
man life : with all his love for the roar of Fleet Street — Avith 
all his disdain of sequestered shades, Johnson's knowledge of 
the world is not so much shown in delineations of urban man- 
ners, as in the seizure of catholic truths applicable to civilized 
men wherever they exercise their reason; and perhaps still 
more clearly perceptible to those in whom country life fosters 
habits of contemplation, than to the eager spirits that seek in 
lu-ban life the arena of active contest. His true genius lay in 
the masculine strength of his common sense ; and in spite of 
his prejudices, of his dogmatism, of his frequent intolerance 
and occasional paradox — in spite, still more, of a style in prose 
strangely contrasting the cold severity of his style in verse — 
unfamiliar, inflated, artificially grandiose — still that common 
sense has such pith and substance that it makes its way to ev- 
er}"" plain, solid understanding. And Avhile all that Johnson 
owed to his more imaginative qualities has faded away from 
his reputation ; while his poems ai'e regarded but as scholastic 
exercises ; while his tragedy is left nnread ; while the fables 
and tales scattered throughout his essays alhire no popular im- 
itation, and even " Rasselas" is less admired for its loftiness of 
jDurpose and conception than censured for its iuapproj^riate di- 
alogue or stilted diction, and neglected for the dryness of its 
narrative and the frigidity of its characters ; while his ablest 
criticisms, composed in his happiest style, rarely throw light 
upon what may be called the metaphysics of imaginative art, 
his knowledge of the world has a largeness, and, at times, a 
depth which preserve authority to his opinions npon the gen- 
eral bearings of life and the prevalent characteristics of man- 
kind — a knowledge so expanded, by its apprehension of gcner- 
ical truths, from mere acquaintanceship with conventional man- 
ners, and tlie sphere Qf the town life wliich enthralled his 
tastes, that at this day it is not in capitals tliat his works are 
most esteemed as authovitati^■e,but rather in the sequestered 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOELD, 391 

liouics of rural book-readers. To men of wit about town, a 
grave sentence from Johnson upon the philosophy of the groat 
world would seem old-fashioned pedantry, where, to men of 
thought in the country, it would convey some truth in social 
wisdom too plain to be uttered by pedants, and too solid to be 
laughed out of fashion by wits. 

Within the period of which I speak rose in England the 
IsTovel of Manners — a class of composition which necessitates 
a considerable amount of knowledge of the world. Richard- 
son, Fielding, Smollett, Sterne, not only laid the vast founda- 
tions, but raised thereon the noble structures, of an art new to 
the literature of our country. All four of the Avriters named 
exhibit knowledge of the world in very high degree. In 
Fielding and Smollett that knowledge is the most apparent, 
from the astonishing vigor with which their characters are 
depicted and their conceptions expressed. It would be waste 
of words to show, Avhat no critic has disputed, viz., Fielding's 
superiority to Smollett (who, nevertheless, is a giant among 
novelists) in philosophical treatment and dignified conception 
of narrative art. But Fielding is little more free than Smol- 
lett from one defect in imaginative creations, as may be seen 
more clearly Avheu I shall have occasion to bring him some- 
vvdiat in comparison with Sir Walter Scott, viz., the too fre- 
quent preference of conventional i>articulars in the selection 
of types of character. A proof of this may be found in the 
fact that Fielding, as well as Smollett, is rather national than 
cosmopolitan, and has had no perceptible influence on the high- 
er forms of fiction in foreign covmtries. This can not be said 
of Richardson and Sterne. Richardson has had, and still retains, 
an extraordinary influence over the imaginative literature of 
France ; Sterne an influence not less efiective over that of Ger- 
many. Goethe has attested the obligations he owed to Sterne 
as well as to Goldsmith. "There is no saying," he declares, 
with grateful enthusiasm, "how powerfully I was influenced 
by Goldsmith and Sterne at the most important period of my 
mental development." And, indeed, the influence of Sterne 
may be visibly traced in German literature to this day, Avher- 
ever its genius cultivates the " Humoristic." The fact is, that 
while, in the conduct of story, not only Sterne, who very sel- 
dom aims at that merit, but even Richardson, who never loses 
sight of it, is many degrees inferior to Smollett and Fielding, 



392 • KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 

yet in conception of cbaracter and in delicacy of treatment we 
recognize in the former two a finer order of art. 

The conceptions of character in Lovelace, Clarissa, Clemen- 
tina, are founded in the preference of generals to particulars ; 
that is, they are enduring types of great subdivisions in the 
human family, wholly irrespective of mutations in scene and 
manners. The knowledge of the world manifested in the 
creation and completion of such characters is subtler and 
deeper than Smollett or even Fielding exhibits in his lusty 
heroes and buxom heroines. Despite the weary tediousness 
of Richardson's style, the beauties which relieve it are of a 
kind that bear translation or paraphrase into foreign languages 
with a facility which is perhaps the surest test of the inherent 
substance and cosmopolitan spirit of imaginative writings. 
The wit and hardihood of Lovelace, the simplicity and naivete 
of Clarissa, the lofty passion of Clementina, find an utterance 
in every language, and similitudes in every civilized race. 

And what lavish and riotous beauty beyond that of mere 
prose, and dispensing with the interest of mere fiction, sport- 
ing with the Muse like a s]3oiled darling of the Graces, charms 
poets and thinkers in the wayward genius of Sterne! Though 
his most exquisite characters are but sketches and outlines, 
Mr. Shandy, Uncle Toby, Corporal Trim, and the mysterious 
shadowy Yorick — though his finest passages in composition 
are marred and blurred by wanton conceit, abrupt imperti- 
nence, audacious levity, ribald indecorum^still, how the lively 
enchanter enforces and fascinates our reluctant admiration! 
Observe how little he is conventional, how iudiflerent he is to 
tlie minute study of particulars, how typical of large generals 
are his sketches of human character. ^There is no reason why 
Uncle Toby, Corporal Trim, Yorick, might not be Frenchmen 
or Germans, born at any epoch or in any land. Who cares 
for the mere date and name of the battles which Uncle Toby 
fights over again ? Any battles would do as well — the siege 
of Troy as well as the siege of Namur. 

And both in Richardson's elaboi'ate development of Love- 
lace's character, and throughout all the lawless phantasies of 
Tristram Shandy, what surprising knowledge of the world is 
displayed ! only in Lovelace it is more the world of the town, 
and therefore Lovelace more pleases the wits of the world of 
Paris, which is the arch-metroj^olitan town of Europe ; while 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOKLD, 393 

in Tristram Shandy it is more the boundless world of men, in 
town or country alike — that world which has no special capi- 
tal — and therefore Tristram Shandy j)leases more the thinkers 
of the German family, because Germany is a world without a 
special capital, and every German principality or province has 
its own Uncle Toby and Yorick. 

The close of the last century gave birth to the finest prose 
comedy in the English, or perhaps any other language. In 
abstract wit, Congreve equals, and, in the opinion of some crit- 
ics, even surpasses Sheridan ; but Congreve's wit is disagree- 
ably cynical. Sheridan's wit has the divine gift of the Graces 
— charm. The smile it brings to our lips is easy and cordial ; 
the smile which Congreve wrings forth is forced and sardonic. 
In what is called vis comica^ Farquhar, it is true, excels Sheri- 
dan by the rush of his animal spirits, by his own hearty relish, 
of the mirth he creates. Sheridan's smile, though more pol- 
ished than Farquhar's, has not less ease; but his laugh, though 
as genuine, has not the same lusty ring. It is scarcely neces- 
sary, however, to point out Sheridan's superioi'ity to Farquhar 
in the quality of the mirth excited. If in him the vis comica 
has not the same muscular strength, it has infinitely more ele- 
gance of movement, and far more disciplined skill- in the finer 
weajDons at its command ; and whatever com^^arison may be 
drawn betAveen the general powers of Sheridan for comic com- 
position and those of Farquhar and Congreve, neither of the 
two last-named has produced a single comedy which can be 
compared to the " School for Scandal." Even Moliere, in prose 
comedy, has no work of so exquisite an art ; where Moliere 
-excels Sheridan, it is where he Avrites in verse, and comes to 
the field in his panoply of poet. Like the " Tartuflfe" of Mo- 
liere, the " School for Scandal" does not borrow its plot from 
previous writers. Both are among the very few great dramas 
in which the author has invented his own fable, and perhaps, 
for this very reason, there are in both much the same faults of 
situation and denouement ; for in both, while the exposition is 
admirable, the denouement is feeble ; and in both there is a re- 
sort to a melodramatic contrivance in producing a critical ef- 
fect in comic situation, viz., the concealment of a personage 
important in the conduct of the more serious interest of the 
plot, whether under a table or behind a screen, and j)reparing 
the audience for the laugh which is sure to follow the discov- 

R2 



394 KNOWLEDGE OF THE AVOKLD, 

ery. This is a kind of effect which can be so cheaply produced 
that there is scarcely a playwright at the Porte St. Martin or 
the Surrey Tlieatre who does not press it into his service. 
But as it does not belong to the legitimate modes of revealing 
character through purely intellectual processes of self revela- 
tion, and is rather among the resources of stage-trick, I doubt 
whether it be worthy of place in the masterpieces of comic art. 
The dramatist who declines to invent his own story usually 
pauses long and meditates deeply over the dramatic elements 
of any fable whicn ho means to adapt to the stage, and is 
much more alive to faults and merits of situation and denoue- 
metit in the story he does not invent than those of a story v. liich 
he can not see clearly before him till, in fact, he has told it. 

Though Joseph Surface is a systematic hypocrite, he has 
very little likeness to Tartuffe. Tartufte is not a comic char- 
acter* — he is almost tragic, for he creates terror; the inter- 
est he gives to the play is, in our vague consciousness of a 
power, intense, secret, and unscrupulous. Joseph Surface is 
almost as mysterious as TartuiFe ; for, unlike Shakspeare's vil- 
lains, and like Tartufte, he does not betray himself to the audi- 
ence by soliloquy. But in Joseph's mysteriousness there is 
no element lof terror: he always remains essentially comic, 
though of the highest and most refined order of comedy. No 
doubt the outlines of his character were suggested by Field- 
ing's portrait of Blifil, as those of Charles Surface have their 
ruder original in Tom Jones. But Joseph is, what Blifil is not, 
an exceedingly polished member of polite society — the type of 
those civil, well-mannered, sentimental impostors whom we 
meet every day in the most brilliant circles, political and social. 
Lady Teazle is a more vivid and lifelike female character than 
the ladies in " Tartufte ;" but Orgon's wife has a touching 
chastity of sentiment to Avhich Sir Peter's makes no pretense. 
I once heard a distinguished critic contend that the interest in 
Lady Teazle, and, through her, in the whole progress of the 
play, might have been advantageously heightened if her alleged 
inexperience had been more genuinely artless ■ — if she had not 
joined with such gusto in the slanders which delight her fash- 

* ^Mavmontel, whose criticisms abound y;\{h finesse of observation, observes 
that "not one of the principal personages in the 'Tartuffe' is comic in him- 
self. Thev all become comic by their opposition. " — jMakmontel upon ' ' Com- 
edy." 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 395 

ionable friends, and seemed the shai-pest-tongued pupil in the 
whole School of Scandal ; and that the plot would have also 
gained in elevation of interest if Sir Peter's position, which is 
in itself one that touches the human heart, had been somewhat 
more raised in the scale of intellectual dignity. But I think 
we shall find, on reflection, that, for the purpose of pure prose 
comedy, any such changes tending to poetize character and 
situation would have been for the worse. Had our sentiment 
for Lady Teazle been a whit more tender, and our sympathy 
for Sir Peter been a whit more respectful, the peril Lady Tea- 
zle incurs from the sleek temptations of Joseph would have 
become almost tragically painful. We could never have quite 
forgiven her for subjecting herself to it; it is her frivolity of 
character, in fact, that alone justifies our indulgence. And had 
Sir Peter established higher and graver place in our aftection- 
ate esteem, I doubt whether we should have had the same 
good-humored pleasure in his final reconciliation with the help- 
mate by whom the honor of his name had been so carelessly 
risked, to be so narrowly saved. 

The surpassing merits of the " School for Scandal" become 
the more brilliant the more minutely they are scanned, and 
the more fairly the faults of the play are put in juxtaposition 
with its beauties. Its merits are not so much to be sought in 
the saliency of any predominating excellence as in the harmo- 
nious combination of great varieties of excellence, in a unity 
of purpose sufiiciently philosophical for the intellect of comedy, 
but not so metaphysical as to mar the airy playfulness of comic 
mirth. The satire it conveys is directed, not to rare and ex- 
ceptional oddities in vice or folly, but to attributes of human 
society which universally furnish the materials and justify the 
ridicule of satire. It is one of the beauties of this great drama 
that its moral purpose is not rigidly narrowed into the mere 
illustration of a maxim — that the outward plot is indeed car- 
ried on by personages who only very indirectly serve to work 
out the interior moral. Sir Peter, Charles Surface, the uncle, 
are not pupils in the " School for Scandal," nor do they share 
in its tasks, and by this very largeness of jjlan the minor char- 
acters acquire a vitality they would otherwise want. "Without 
Cliarlcs and Sir Peter, a Backbite and a Candor Avould be 
mere abstractions symbolized by the names they bear. But 
once admit tlie more spontaneous flesh-and-blood characters 



396 KXO^VLEDGE OF THE WOKLD. 

of Sir Peter and Charles, and the personifications of abstract 
satire take vital substance and warmth by the contact ; and 
wherever we look throughout the range of our worldly ac- 
quaintances we recognize a Sir Benjamin Backbite and a Mrs. 
Candor. I think it the originality and charm of the plot itself 
that the members of the School of Scandal rather constitute 
the chorus of the drama than its active agents. And with 
what ease the marvelous wit of this marvelous comedy grows 
like a mother tongue out of the ideas which the author wants 
to express ! What large knoAvledge of the world that wit 
epitomizes in its epigrams ! How naturally its hons-mots 
idealize the talk of our salons and drawing-rooms ! There, 
refined by genius, is the dialogue of fashionable wits so long as 
fashion has rank in polite cities. 

Campbell observes "that Dryden praises the gentlemen in 
Beaumont and Fletcher as the men of fashion of the times;" 
and Campbell adds, " it was necessary that Dryden should call 
them the men of fashion of the times, for they are not, in the 
highest sense of the Avord, gentlemen." 

This is true of Beaumont and Fletcher. Of Congreve we 
may say that in no times could his heroes have been "gentle- 
men." Farquhar is happier. Sir Harry Wildair is a gentle- 
man of fashion, but regarded as a young ci-devant actor who 
had obtained a commission in the army, which he did not long 
keep, would naturally regard a gentleman of fashion — at a dis- 
tance — to bow to him, not to live with him. Sheridan's gen- 
tlemen are drawn by the pen of one who could not more have 
flattered a Sir Harry Wildair than by calling him "ray dear 
fellow." 

In Sheridan's comedy, knowledge of manners — knowledge 
of the world — is consummate, and, especially in the " School 
for Scandal," illustrated through enduring types. Like the 
other great writers of his day, his knowledge is concentred in 
town-knowledge. But town-knowledge, though not the first 
requisite in the world-knowledge of a poet or jDhilosopher, is 
precisely the knowledge which we seek in the writer of com- 
edy who, selecting prose for his medium of expression, gives 
ns in substance the prose of hfe, and not its poetry. Comedy 
— at least prose comedy — must be gregarious and urban. 

In fine, there are very few works in the literature of En- 
gland, of which, as compared with the analogous literature of 



K2^0WLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 397 

Other countries, we have a right to be more proud than the 
" School for ScandaL" If, in the poetry of the drama, we can 
challenge Europe to produce a rival to Shakspeare, so, in the 
essential prose of the drama — in the comedy that dispenses 
with poetry altogether — that embodies, through forms the 
most exquisitely appropriate to its purpose, the idealized ob- 
jects of comedy — we may challenge Europe to show us a per- 
formance equal to the " School for Scandal." 

We must now turn back to glance at the greatest of the 
French authors in whom this knowledge of the world has been 
displayed, not as court satirists, but as men who combine the 
calm lore of the philosopher with the impartial human heart 
of the poet. And here I can not refuse his due rank to the 
Father of Modern Essay. Montaigne owes his immortality — 
owes his enduring influence ujJon thought — to that knowledge 
of the world which is wholly independent of change in man- 
ners. 

Montaigne is in one respect the antipodes of Shakspeare ; 
in another respect he is the French writer I Avould crave leave 
most to place in comparison with Shakspeare. 

Montaigne is the antipodes to Sliakspeare, inasmuch as he is 
intensely subjective, obtrusively personal. So, as a narrator 
of his own personal experiences and opinions, he ought to have 
been; just as Shakspeare, where a dramatist, could not have 
been obtrusively personal, even where writing his own most 
haunting thoughts. But where Montaigne is to be likened to 
Shakspeare is in the similar result at which, through so antag- 
onistic a process, he arrives. Though apparently only study- 
Log himself, he himself has a nature so large that it comj^re- 
hends mankind. Xever did one man in his egotism more 
faithfully represent the greatest number of attributes common 
to the greatest number of men. His grasp comprehends ma- 
terials for thought that it might task a thousand sages to work 
up into systems. His fineness of vision seizes on subtleties in 
character and mysteries in feeling that might open new views 
of the human heart to a thousand poets, and all with the same 
seeming artlessness which deceived even Milton himself as to 
the art of Shakspeare. No essay yet written is so artful as 
one of Montaigne's great essays, just as no drama yet written 
is so artful as one of Shakspeare's great dramas. The proof 
of art in both is tlie delight that they give to artists who have 



398 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 

done their best to consider bow to write a drama or how to 
write an essay. 

Montaigne's way of viewing life, men, and manners was, as 
I have elsewhere said, emphatically that of the lyrical poet, 
viz., through a medium of personal feeling rather than sci- 
entific reasoning. Pie has a poet's instinctive repugnance to 
system, whereas a scientific reasoner has to system an almost 
unconquerable attraction. He gives us his impressions of men 
and things, troubling himself very little Avith the defense of his 
impressions ; and his survey of the world is the more compre- 
hensive because it is taken from a height and at a distance : 
he has seen the world, and mixed in its pleasures and pursuits ; 
he means still to do so as an inquirer ; every year he hopes 
to moimt his horse ; to ride into foreign lands, and wander 
through foreign cities. But when he icrltes of the world, it is 
in his old Gascon tower — it is in a chamber which his nearest 
of kin are forbidden to enter, and in which his only comrades 
are books. He complacently tells iis he has got together a 
thousand volumes — a great library for that day ; but as most 
of those volumes must have been the books of a very diflerent 
day, they only serve to enforce his own opinions and illustrate 
his own experience. It is his own human heart, as he has test- 
ed it through his own human life, that he first analyzes and 
then synthesizes ; and out of that analysis and that synthesis 
he dissects into separate members, and then puts together 
again, the world. 

From Montaigne we pass to Moliere, whose study of the hu- 
mors of men necessarily embraced those views of the world 
of men which afford theme and subject to the Comic Poet. 
Knowledge of the world in him is not, therefore, spontaneous- 
ly poured forth as in Montaigne ; it is trained to the jDurposes 
of comic art, and considered with an eye accustomed to stage 
efiect; so that where most philosophical it is somewhat too 
sharply limited to satii'e, and where most sportive, somewhat 
too wantonly carried away into farce. But Moliere is one of 
that rarest order of poets whose very faults become sacred in 
the eyes of admirers. He is not only revered as a master, but 
beloved by us as a friend. Of all the French dramatists, he is 
the only one whose genius is as conspicuous to foreign nations 
as it is to his own. Like Shakspeare, he is for all time and for 
all races. A piercing observer of the society around him, he 



KNOWLEDGE OP THE WORLD. 399 

selects from that society types the least socially conventional. 
His very men of fashion are never out of the fashion. Where 
most he excels all that is left to us of the comedy of the an- 
cients is where his invention most escapes from its influence, 
and reveals those truths of a poetry almost tragic, wliich lie 
half in light, half in shadow, on the serious side of humor. 
Here, the comedy of the " Misanthrope" is without a rival as 
to conception of character and delicacy of treatment, though in 
point of dramatic construction and vigor of style the "Tar- 
tuffe" has been held to surpass it. " The exposition of ' Tar- 
tuffe,'" says Goethe, " is withoiit its equal; it is the grandest 
and best of its kind." 

Of all the many kinds of knowledge possessed by Voltaire, 
knowledge of the world was, perhaps, that for which he Avas 
most remarkable. It was that knowledge which secured to 
him so vast an audience and* so lofty a position ; and the apti- 
tude for such kind of knowledge was inborn with liim — made 
three parts of his ingenium or native genius. While little 
more than a boy, this son of a notary lifted himself to that so- 
cial rank which he ever afterward maintained as a vantage- 
ground to his sway over the millions — the brilliant ^^roiJ^^d of 
Ninon de I'Enclos, the favorite wit of Philippe the Regent, be- 
, fore the beard was dark on his chin. Otlier neophytes of in- 
ferior birth admitted into the circles of social greatness usual- 
ly wither away in that chilling atmos2:)here : their genius ac- 
commodates itself to the trifles which make up the life of idlers 
— their spirit bows itself to dependence ; they contribute to 
the amusement of princes, yet are the last persons to whom 
princes accord the solid rewards of fortune. 

But, from the first, Voltaire put to profit the personages out 
of whom a mere man of genius could have extracted nothing 
beyond praise and famine. Before he was twenty, he learned, 
in the society of a Vendome and a Conti, how to flatter the 
great without meanness — how to maintain equality with them, 
yet not seem to presume — and how to put them to use with 
the air of doing them a favor. Ninon de TEnclos took a fan- 
cy to this brilliant boy ; Ninon de TEnclos took a fimcy to a 
great many brilliant boys, much more adapted to strike the 
eye and the senses of an antiquated beauty than the spindle- 
shanked son of the notary Arouet ; but Ninon distinguislied 
young Arouet from other brilliant boys in this — she left him 



400 KNOWLEDGE .OF THE WORLD. 

two thousand francs. The youth destined to convulse nations 
knew by intuition that a man who would raise himself into a 
Power should begin by securing a pecuniary independence. 
It has been said of some writers that, from the first, they al- 
ways tenderly nursed their fame. Voltaire did not do that ; 
he sported with his fame, but he always tenderly nursed his 
fortune. 

He early foresaw that his future life would be, as he defined 
it later, a combat, and accordingly took care betimes to pro- 
vide himself with the sinews of war. By skillful speculations 
in the commerce of Cadiz, and in the purchase of corn in Bar- 
bary — still more happily by obtaining, through what we should 
now call a job, an interest dans les vivres de Varmee dltalie, 
which brought him in 800,000 francs, he established a capital 
which, as he invested it in life annuities, yielded an income far 
above that enjoyed by the average number of the half-ruined 
nobles of France. 

In the course of his long life Voltaire was, of course, more 
than once in love, but only once, and then, when the heyday 
of youth was over, did he form that kind of attachment which 
influences a man's existence. "We may doubt the strength of 
his passion, but the prudence with which he selected its object 
is incontestable. He chose a marquise of good fortune, with 
a luxurious chateau and scientific predilections. Thus, far from 
finding in love the imjDOverisher of fortune and the disturber 
of philosophy, this wise man of the world made love fill his ex- 
chequer and provide his Academe. 

With Madame du Chastelet he shared the delights of an ex- 
cellent table, the refined relaxations of a polished society ; with 
Madame du Chastelet he shared also the study of the problems 
in Newton's " Principia ;" and when death bereaved the phi- 
losopher of his Avell-selected helpmate, the tender mathemati- 
cian bequeathed him a better consolation than any to be found 
in Boethius — she left him a handsome addition to his already 
handsome fortune. 

According to astrology, Venus and Saturn are friendly stars 
to each other ; the one presides over love, the other over her- 
itages. Voltaire, as thorough man of the world, united both 
in his First House. And thus, even in that passion which 
usually makes fools of the wisest, Voltaire pursued the occu- 
pations of vvisdom, and realized the rewards of wealth. 



\ 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 401 

Throughout his whole career the great Avriter exhibited in 
his own person that supreme knowledge of the world which 
constitutes the characteristic excellence of his works. And 
when he retired at last to liis palace at Ferney, it was with 
the income of a prince, and the social consideration paid to a 
king. 

Perhaps, however, while knowledge of the world constitutes 
the characteristic excellence of Voltaire's writings, it also con- 
tributes to their characteristic defect. Genius may be world- 
wide, but it should not be world-limited. Voltaire never es- 
capes " this visible diurnal sphere." With all his imagination, 
he can not comprehend the enthusiasm which lifts itself above 
the earth. His Mohammed is only an ambitious impostor, 
whom he drags on the stage as a philoBoj^hical exj^ositor of the 
wiles and crimes of priestcraft. With all his mastery of lan- 
guage, he can not achieve the highest realms of poetic expres- 
sion or passionate eloquence; he is curbed by what he had 
learned in the polite world to call "good sense" and "good 
taste." His finest characters exhibit no delicate shades, no 
exquisite subtleties, like those of Shakspeare and Goethe. His 
finest verses are but sonorous declamations, or philosophical 
sentences admirably rhymed. Like Goethe, he is fond of" mo- 
tivating," and the personages of his fictions always act upon 
philosophical principles ; but, unlike Goethe, he is jejune as a 
metaphysician, and sterile as a psychologist. His plays — even 
some of those now unread and unacted — are masterpieces of 
mechanical construction ; the speeches they contain are often 
as full of pith and of sound as if they had been aphorisms of 
Seneca versified by Ltican. But his personages want not only 
the lifelike movement of flesh and blood, but that spirituality 
of character (if I may use the term) which is not jDut into play 
by springs merely intellectual, and Avhich, as it is most evident 
in all higher types of man, is essential to the representations 
of such types in the drama. If we compare those j^arts in his 
tragedies which%re considered the most striking with the he- 
roic parts conceived and embodied by Corneille, they often 
satisfy better our logical judgment : what they do is more 
Avithin tlie range of prose probabilities — what they say is more 
conformable to the standard of prose common sense. But they 
do not, like Coi'neille's, seize hold of the heart through its no- 
blest emotions — carry the soul aloft from tlie conventional 



402 KNOWLEDGE OP THE WORLD. 

judgments of the mind in its ordinary dealings with ratio- 
cinated prose life, and utter, in the language of men, senti- 
ments which men never could utter if they were not immor- 
tals as well as men. The grandest of all our instincts is also 
that which is the most j^opularly stirred, viz., the struggle of 
thought from the finite toward the infinite. And this is the 
reason why the heroic in character and sentiment is always 
popularly comprehended on the stage, and why, through what- 
ever varying phase it he exhibited, it is, when genuine, among 
those evidences of the spiritual nature of abstract man, which, 
by a common sympathy, all races of men ajipreciate and seek 
to preserve. 

Voltaire himself seems complacently to mark the limit which 
divides his genius from that of a Shakspeare or a Goethe, in a 
knowledge of this world, so shar2Dly closed that it rejects all 
that divining conjecture of the worlds beyond it, to which their 
knowledge of this world leads them so restlessly upward. His 
views of the poetry of life are thus always taken from some 
side of its material prose. In his genius, whether as poet or 
philosopher, every genuine poet, or every earnest thinker, rec- 
ognizes a want which he finds it difiicult to express. Certain- 
ly Voltaire has the art of a poet, certainly he is not without 
the science of a thinker; but poetry is not all art — thought is 
not all science. What Voltaire seems most to want is the 
warmth of soul which supplies to poetry the nameless some- 
thing that art alone can not give, and to thought the free out- 
lets into belief and conjecture which science w^ould cease to be 
science if it did not refuse to admit. Be this as it may, Vol- 
taire's knowledge of this world, as exhibited whether in his 
life or his w-ritings, was exceedingly keen and sharp ; and for 
any knowledge of a world beyond this, Voltaire is the last 
guide a man of bold genius would follow, or a man of calm 
judgment consult. 

It is strange that the two contemporary writers in whom 
knowledge of the world is most conspic#)usly displayed, 
should have depreciated, if not actually despised, each other. 
Le Sage had the temerity to ridicule Voltaire at a period, in- 
deed, of that author's life when his chefs-cVoeuvre had not yet 
raised him above ridicule. Voltaire, in turn, sj^eaks of Le 
Snge with the lofty disdain of slighthig commendation — as a 
writer not altogether without merit, allowing " Gil Bias" the 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 403 

praise of being " natural," but dismissing it as a literal plagia- 
rism from the Spanish. Yet perhaps all Voltaire's books put 
together do not contain so much knowledge of the world, arti- 
ficial no less than natural, as that same " Gil Bias ;" and Vol- 
taire, with his practical mastery of his own language, ought to 
have been the first to perceive that, whatever " Gil Bias" 
might owe to the Spanish, a book more thoroughly French in 
point of form and style, more original in all that constitutes 
artistic originality, is not to be found in the literature of 
France.* The form, the style, is indeed singularly at variance 
with the marked peculiarities of Sj)auish humor. Compare 
the style of " Gil Bias" with that of Cervantes or Quevedo, 
and the radical distinctions between the spirit of the French 
language and that of the Spanish become conclusively appar- 
ent. The language of Sj^ain is essentially a language of prov- 
erbs ; every other sentence is a proverb. In proverbs, lovers 
woo ; in proverbs, politicians argue ; in proverbs, you make 
your bargain with your landlady or hold a conference with 
your muleteer. The language of Spain is built upon those di- 
minutive relics of a wisdom that may have existed before the 
Deluge, as the town of Berlin is built upon strata amassed, in 
the process of ages, by the animalcules that dwell in their pores. 
No servile translation, nay, no liberal paraphrase from a Span- 
ish wit (such as Le Sage's masterpiece has been deemed by 
his detractors), would not immediately betray its Spanish ori- 
gin. But there is not a vestige of the ineflaceable characteris- 
tic of the Spanish language in the idiomatic case of Le Sage's 
exquisite French. The humor of S2:)ain, as may be expected 
from a language of proverbs, is replete with hyperbole and 
metaphor ; it abounds with similes or images that provoke 
your laughter by their magnificent extravagance. Take, for 
instance, the following description of the miserly schoolmaster 
in Quevedo's " Paul the Sharper." I quote from an old trans- 
lation (1741), admirable for raciness and gusto : 

"The first Sunday after Lent we were brought into the 
house of Famine, for 'tis impossible to describe the penury of 
the place. The master was a skeleton — a mere shotten her- 
ring, or like a long slender cane with a little head upon it, 

* At a later period of his life Le Sage published a translation of the very 
novel of which "Gil Bias" was said to he the servile copy. This was prob- 
ably his best mode of refuting the charge against him. 



404 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOKLD. 

and red-haired ; so that there needs no more to be said to 
such as know the proverb — ' that neither cat nor dog of that 
color are good.' His eyes ahnost sunk into his head, as if he 
had loolced through a perspective glass, or the deep windows 
in a linen-draper's shop. His beard had lost its color for fear 
of his mouth, which, being so near, seemed to threaten to eat 
it for mere hunger. His neck as long as a crane's, with the 
gullet sticking out so far as if it had been compelled by neces- 
sity to start out for sustenance He walked leisurely, 

and whenever he happened to move any thing faster, his bones 
rattled like a pair of snappers. As for his chamber, there was 
not a cobweb in it, the spiders being all staiwed to death. He 
put spells upon the mice for fear they should gnaw some scraps 
of bread he kept. His bed was on the floor, and he always 
lay on one side for fear of wearing out the sheets." 

The humor of thi^ passage is extraordinary for riot and re- 
dundance. Can any thing less resemble the xmforced gayety, 
the easy, well-bred wit of " Gil Bias ?" Nor is it only in form 
and style that " Gil Bias" is pre-eminently French ; many of 
its salient anecdotes and illustrations of manners are suggest- 
ed by Parisian life, and the whole social coloring of the novel 
is caught from a Parisian atmosphere. In truth, the more we 
examine the alleged evidences of Le Sage's plagiarism, the 
more visible the originality of his " Gil Bias" becomes. It is 
the same with all writers of first-rate genius. They may seize 
Avhat they did not inherit with an audacity that shocks the 
moral nerves of a critic, yet so incorporate in their own do^ 
minion every rood of ground they annex, that the result is an 
empire the world did not know before. Little wits that plagi- 
arize are but pickpockets ; great wits that plagiarize are con- 
querors. One does not cry "Stop thief!" to Alexander the 
Great when he adds to the heritage of Macedon the realms of 
Asia ; one does not cry " Plagiarist !" to Shakspeare when wq 
discover the novel from which he borrowed a plot. A writer's 
true originality is in his form — is in that which distinguishes 
the mould of his genius from the mintage of any other brain. 
When we have patiently examined into all Lawrence Sterne's 
alleged thefts, collated passages in Burton's "Anatomy" with 
passages in " Tristram Shandy," the chief amaze of a discei'n- 
ing critic is caused by the transcendent originality with which 
Sterne's sovereign genius has, in spite of all the foreign sub- 



KNOWLEDGE OP THE WOELD. 405 

stances it laid under contribution, preserved unique, unimita- 
ting and inimitable, its own essential idiosyncrasy of form and 
thought. True, there are passages in "Tristram Shandy" 
taken almost literally from Burton's "Anatomy." But can 
any book be less like another than Burton's "Anatomy" to 
"Tristram Shandy?" When you have shown us all the straws 
in a block of amber, and proved to our entire satisfaction that 
the amber had imbedded the straws, still the amber remains 
the amber, all the more curious and all the more valuable for 
the liberty it took with the straws. 

But, though " Gil Bias" be in form and coloring decidedly 
French, the knowledge of life it illustrates is so vast that, in 
substance, it remains to this day the epitome of the modern 
-world. Amid all mutations of external manners, all varying 
fashions of costume, stand forth in immortal freshness its large 
types of civilized human nature. Its author is equally remark- 
able for variety of character, formed by the great Avorld, and 
for accurate insight into the most general springs of action by 
which they who live in the great world are moved. Thus he 
is as truthful to this age as he was to his own. His Don Ra- 
phael and his Ambrose Lamela are still specimens of the two 
grand divisions in the genus Rogue, the bold and the hypocrit- 
ical — as familiarly known to the police of London and Paris 
as they were to the Brotherhood of St. Hermandad ; his Ca- 
milla is still found in Belgravia or Brompton ; his Don Gon- 
zales is still the elderly dupe of some artful Euphrasia. Who 
has not met with his Archbishop of Grenada ? 

Though the satire in " Gil Bias" can be very keen, as when 
the author whets its blade to strike at actors and doctors, yet, 
for the most part, it is less satire than pleasantry. No writer, 
with power equal to Le Sage over the sj^rings of ridicule, 
more rarely abuses it to the service of libel and caricature. 

Le Sage's knowledge of the world is incomparably more 
wide than that of Rochefoucauld — nay, even of Voltaire; part- 
ly because the survey extends to regions toward which the 
first scarcely glanced, and partly because it is never, as with 
the second, dwarfed to a system, nor fined away into the sharp 
point of a scoff. The humanity of " Gil Bias" himself, how- 
ever frail and erring, is immense, indulgent, genial. He stands 
by Olivarez in the reverse of fortime, and to his ear the fallen 
minister confides the secret of the spectre which haunts the 



406 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOKLD. 

solitude of foiled ambition ; but he is found at the side of 
Fabricio in the hospital at Madrid, and hears the poor poet 
assure him that he has so thoroughly abjured the ungrateful 
Muse, that at that very moment he is composing the verses in 
which he bids her farewell. He is not always in cities, though 
his sphere of action be in them: he can enjoy the country; 
his sketches of rural landscape are delicious. When he comes 
to settle in his pleasant retreat of Llirias, who does not share 
his delight in the discovery of a fourth pavilion stored with 
books? and who does not admire the fidelity to human nature 
with which the author seizes on his hero's pause from the life 
of towns, to make him find for the first time the happy leisure 
to fall in love ? 

Since " Gil Bias" I know not if France has produced any 
one novel remarkable for knowledge of the world, though, 
taking all together, the mass of recent French novels certainly 
exhibits a great deal of that knowledge. Perhaps it may be 
found, more than in any other French novelist of his brilliant 
day, in that large miscellany of fictions which M. de Balzac 
lias grouped together under the title of "La Comedie Hu- 
maine ;" but it is not within my intention to illustrate the 
criticism contained in this essay by contemporaneous examples. 
The criticism of contemporaries is the most unsatisfactory of 
all compositions. The two most popular writers of the last 
generation— Scott and Byron — naturally engaged the analyt- 
ical exaiiiination of some of the finest intellects of their time; 
and yet, if we turn back to the pages of our quarterly reviews, 
and read again what was there said of Byron's new poem or 
Scott's new tale, we are startled to see how shallow and in- 
sipid, how generally indiscriminate in praise or in censure, re- 
viewers so distinguished contrived to be. Large objects mx;st 
not only be placed at a certain distance from the eye that 
would measure them, but the ground immediately around 
tliem must be somewhat cleared. We may talk, write, argne, 
dispute, about the authors of our own day ; but to criticise is 
to judge, and no man can be a judge while his mind is under 
all the influences of a Avitness. If I feel impressed with this 
conviction in treating of contemporary foreign authors, I must 
feel impress with it yet more strongly in treating of the con- 
temporary writers of my own country. 

We stand even too near to the time of Walter Scott to es- 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 407 

cape the double iufluence — firstly, of the action whicli, during 
his life, he exercised on the literature of Eurojje ; and, second- 
ly, of the reaction which always follows the worship paid to a 
writer of dazzling celebrity when his career is closed and his 
name is no longer on every tongue. Among the rising gen- 
eration, neither Scott nor Byron, according to the invariable 
laws to which the fluctuations of fame are submitted, can re- 
ceive other than the languid approbation with Avhich persons 
speak of a something that has just gone out of fashion without 
having yet acquired the veneration due to antiquity. In pro- 
portion as a taste in authorship, architecture, in the arts of 
embellishment — down even to those employed on furniture 
and dress — has been carried to enthusiasm in its own day, is 
the indifference with which it is put aside for some new fash- 
ion in the day that immediately succeeds. Let time pass on, 
and what was undervalued as rococo becomes again, if it have 
real merit, the rage as classic. I am not, therefore, at all sur- 
prised when a young lady, fresh from the nursery, tells me 
that all Lord Byron ever wrote is not worth a stanza by a Mr. 
Somebody, of whom, out of England, Europe has never heard; 
nor does it amaze me when a young gentleman, versed in light 
literature, tells me he finds Scott, as a romance writer, heavy, 
and prefers the novels of a Mr. or Miss Somebody, whose very 
name he will have forgotten before he is forty. When suns 
set, little stars come in fashion. But suns rearise with the 
morrow. A century or two hence, Byron and Scott will not 
be old-fashioned, but ancient ; and then they may be estimated 
according to their degree of excellence in that art, which is 
for all time, and not, as now, according to their place in or 
out of the fashion, which is but of a day. Milton and Shak- 
speare were for a time out of fashion ; so indeed was Homer 
himself. If, then, the remarks upon Walter Scott, which I 
very diffidently hazard, convey no criticism worthy the sub- 
ject, his admirers will have the satisfaction of believing that 
he will find ample work for much better critics than I am five 
hundred years hence. And, first, it appears to me that one 
cause of Sir Walter Scott's unprecedented popularity as a 
novelist, among all classes and in all civilized lands, is to be 
found in tlic case and the breadth of his knowledge of the 
world. He does not pretend to much metaphysical science or 
much vehement eloquence of passion. He troubles himself 



408 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 

very little with the analysis of mind, with the struggle of con- 
flicting emotions. For that reason, he could never have ob- 
tained, in the highest walks of the drama, a success corre- 
spondent to the loftiness of his fame as a tale-teller. The 
drama must bare to an audience the machinery of an intellect 
or the Avorld of a heart. No mere interest of narrative, no 
mei-e skill of situation, can, for a j^lay that is to retain a per- 
manent hold on the stage, supply the want of that wondrous 
insight into motive and conduct which attests the philosoi^hy 
of Shakspeare, or that fervent oratory of passion which exalts 
into eloquence almost superhuman the declamatory verse of 
Corneille. Scott could neither have described nor even con- 
ceived the jDrogress of jealousy in Othello. Pie could not have 
described nor even conceived that contrast between Curiace 
and either Horace, father or son, in which is so sublimely re- 
vealed the secret of the Roman ascendency. But, as an artist 
of Narrative and not of the Drama, Scott was perhaj)S the 
greater for his omissions. Let any reader bring to his recol- 
lection that passage in the grandest tragic romance our lan- 
guage possesses — the "Bride of Lammermoor" — in which, the 
night before the Master of Ravenswood vanishes from the 
tale, he shuts himself up in his fated tower, and all that is 
known of the emotions through which his soul travailed is the 
sound of his sleepless heavy tread upon the floor of his soli- 
tary room. "What can be grander in narrative art than the 
suppression of all dramatic attempt to analyze emotion and re- 
duce its expression to soliloquy ? But that matchless effect in 
narrative art would have been imiDossibie in dramatic. On 
the stage, the suffering man must have spoken out — words 
must have been found for the utterance of the agonized heart. 
If Scott here avoided that resort to language as the interi^ret- 
ation of passion which Shakspeare in a similar position of one 
of his great characters woxddhave seized, Scott is the more to 
be admired as a master in the art he undertook, which was 
not subjected to dramatic necessities, and permitted him to 
trust, for the effect he sought to convey, to the imagination of 
the reader ; as in the old Greek picture, Agamemnon's grief 
in the sacrifice of his daughter was expressed, not by dejDict- 
ing his face, but by concealing it behind his mantle. 

Still, throughout all his greatest romances, a discerning crit- 
ic will notice how spai'ingly Scott dissects the mechanism of 



KNOWLEDGE OE THE WORLD. 409 

the human mind ; how littlo the inclinations of his genius dis- 
pose him either toward the metaphysical treatment or the po- 
etical utterance of conflicting passions. And it is for that rea- 
son that his stories, when dramatized, are melodramas, and can 
not, with justice to himself, be converted into tragedies. The 
nearest approach he has made to metaphysical analysis or pas> 
sionate eloquence, and therefore to the creation of a great dra- 
matic part, is in one of his later and least popular romances, 
" The Fair Maid of Perth." . The conception of a young High- 
land chief — not without noble qualities, bound by every motive 
of race, of pride, of love, to exhibit the vulgar personal courage 
which a common smith possesses to extreme, and failing from 
mere want of nerve — is, in point of metaphysical knowledge 
poetically exjDressed, both new and true, and in point of dra- 
matic passion might be made on tlie stage intensely pathetic. 
But Scott does not do full justice to his own thoughtful con- 
ception. It is a magnificent idea, not perfected by the origin- 
ator, but out of which some future dramatist could make an 
immortal play, which no dramatist ever could out of those 
gems of narrative romance, " Ivanhoe" and " Kenilworth." 
But if Scott did not exhibit a depth and subtlety proportioned 
to the wide scope of his genius in the dissection of the human 
mind or the delineation of human passion, he carried knoAvl- 
edge of the world — knowledge of manners, of social life in gen- 
eral — to an extent which no previous British novelist has ever 
reached ; and so harmoniously, so artistically poetized that 
knowledge, that it is not one of the merits in him which would 
most strike an ordinary critic ; for Scott did not deal with the 
modern world of manners ; his great fictions do not touch upon 
our own time, nor invite our immediate recollections of what 
we have witnessed. His art is all the greater for not doing 
so ; and so is his knowledge of the world, as the world is ever 
in human societies. In "Ivanhoe," for instance, there are many 
defects in mere antiquarian accuracy. Two or three centuries 
are massed together in a single year. But the general sj^irit 
of the age is made clear to pojDular apprehension, and stands 
forth with sufficient fidelity to character and costume for the 
purpose, not of an antiquarian, but of a poet. And it is the 
author's knowledge of the world, as the world is ever, which 
enables him to give such interest, charm, and vitality to his 
portraitures of manners so unfamiliar to our own. The great 

S 



410 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 

types of character he selects are those which could have occur- 
red to no writer who had not acquired a very large acquaint- 
ance with mankind in his own time, and who had not made 
that acquaintance aid him, whether in the philosophical or the 
poetical transcript of an era dim-seen through our chronicles. 
Is there, throughout all prose fiction (excej)t elsewhere in his 
own), any thing comparable, in the union of practical truth 
Avith poetized expression, to Scott's poi'traitures of the Saxon 
Cedric, Athelstane,'Wamba, Gurth, and the Norman De Bra- 
cy. Front de Boeuf, Prince John, Cceur de Lion ? With what 
consummate knowledge of real life even the gentle insipid vir- 
tues of Ivanhoe are indicated as the necessary link between 
the Saxon and Norman ! It is ever thus to this day. The man 
who yields to what must be — who deserts the superstitious ad- 
herence to what has been for an acquiescence in what is — has 
always, when honorable and sincere, a something in him of an 
Ivanhoe or a Waverley. 

Knowledge of the world never forsakes Walter Scott, and 
in him it is always idealized up to the point of dramatic nar- 
rative, and no farther. His kings speak according to all our 
popular associations with those kings — his nobles are always 
nobles, idealized as poetry should idealize nobles — his jDcasants, 
always peasants, idealized as poetry should idealize peasants ; 
but in both noble and peasant, no idealizing process destroys 
what I may call the practical side of truth in character. Scott's 
kings may be a little more kingly than a'leveler finds them; 
still, their foibles are not disguised, and they are never stilted 
and overpurpled. His peasants may be a little wittier and 
sharper than a fine gentleman discovers peasants to be ; still, 
they are not falsified into epigrammatists or declaimers. His 
humanity, like Shakspeare's, is always genial and indulgent. 
Hence, despite his strong political opinions, the wondrous im- 
partiality with which, as an artist, he brings out the grand he- 
roic features which belong to the chosen representatives of 
either party. It is true that he exalts overmuch the Cavalier 
accomplishments of Claverhouse, but then he bi'ings into fuller 
light than history reveals the Roundhead grandeur of Burley. 
It is true that the cruelty of the one vanishes overmuch, ac- 
cording to strict history, in graceful, lovable curves of chival- 
ric beauty, but it is also true that the ferocious fanaticism of 
the other vanishes amid the awe man always feels for con- 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 411 

scientious convictions and indomitable zeal. Claverhouse in 
Scott is more beautiful than he was in life — Buiiey more sub- 
lime ; in both, the author is artistically right ; for, if I do not 
err in the doctrine I have elsewhere laid down, that the great 
artist seeks generals and not particulars ; avoids, in art, the 
exact portraitures of individuals, and seeks, in selecting indi- 
viduals, great representative types of humanity, then the Clav- 
erhouse of Scott is to be regarded, not as Claverhouse alone, 
but as the idealized type of the haughty Cavalier, with his 
faults and merits; and Burley is not Burley alone, but the 
type, also idealized, of the fanatical Roundhead, with all the 
heroism of his zeal, even when maddened by the extravagances 
of his sect. A man of Walter Scott's opinions must have been, 
indeed, a large-minded man of the world, and an artist, sover- 
eign in the impartiality of art, before he could have given to 
Balfour of Burley that claim to moral reverence which no 
writer on the Cavalier side of the question ever before gave 
to a Roundhead. Compare Hudibras to Walter Scott, and at 
once you see the distinction between the satirical jDartisan and 
the world-wise poet, who, seeking through the world whatever 
of grand or beautiful his wisdom can discover', exalts, indeed, 
but never mocks, beauty or grandeur wherever he finds it, 
and is himself unconscious, in the divine impartiality of art, 
that he has sometimes placed the most enduring elements of 
grandeur on the side to which, in the opinions of his own ac- 
tual life, he is most opposed. Does Homer more favor the 
Greeks or Trojans ? that is a fair dispute with scholars. But 
the secret of his preference is really locked within his own 
breast. Certainly he must (whether he w^as one Homer or a 
minstrelsy of Homers) have had a partisan's j)reference for 
one or the other. But if the Trojan, how impartially he com-- 
pels our admiration of Achilles! if the Greek, how impartially 
he centres our tenderness and sympathy upon Hector ! Such 
impartiality is the highest exposition of knowledge of the 
world, and also of poetic art. Both these seeming ojiposites 
meet at the same point in the circle of human intellect, viz., 
that respect for humanity in which are merged and lost all the 
sectarian dnferences of actual individual life. Only where this 
point is reached do we have knowledge of the world or poetic 
art at its grandest apogee. And this truth is, joerhaps, best 
shown by a reference to historians. History, in its highest 



412 KNOWLEDGE OF THE AVOKLD. 

ideal, requires an immense knowledge of the world ; it requires 
also something of the genius and heart of a poet, though it 
avoids poetical form ; that is, the difference between an accu- 
rate chronicler and a great historian is to be found partly in 
knowledge, not only of dry facts, hut of the motives and prac- 
tical conduct of mankind, and. partly in the seasonable elo- 
quence, not of mere diction, but of thought and sentiment, 
which is never to be found in a man who has in him nothing 
of the poet's nature. Yet a historian may possess a high de- 
gree of both these essentials, but, failing of the highest, at 
which both should conjoin — viz., impartiality — the world can 
not accept him as an authority. For this reason, while ad- 
miring their brilliant qualities as writers on history, no just- 
thinking man can ever recognize the authority of a historian 
in Hume or Macaulay. Scott, though a writer of romance, 
and having in his actual life political ojoinions quite as strong 
as those of Macaulay or Hume, yet, partly from a frank com- 
mune with the world in all its classes and divisions, partly 
from the compulsion of his art, which ordained him to seek 
what was grand or beautiful on either side of conflicting opin- 
ion, conveys infinitely fairer views of historical character than 
either of those illustrious writers of history. Scott, in a ro- 
mance, could not have fallen into such Voltairean abasements 
of the grand principle of religious faith as those into which 
Hume descends when he treats of the great Puritans of the 
civil wars; nor could Scott, in a romance, have so perverted 
the calm judicial functions of history as Lord Macaulay has 
done in that elaborated contrast between James H. and Wil- 
liam and Mary, which no pomp of diction can reconcile to the 
reader's sense of justice and truth. The more the character 
of James (not as king only, but as man) is remorselessly black- 
ened — in order to heighten, by that efiiect of contrast which is 
the favorite artifice of forensic rhetoric, the effulgence of light 
so lavishly thrown around every phase of frosty character in 
William — the more it offends us to find only the oratorical ad- 
vocate where, seated in the tribunal of history, we had looked 
for the impartial judge. And here our reason is th^ more for- 
tified against abiise of eloquence by the instincts of the imi- 
versal human heart. Political reasons abound to justify a 
people for dej)osing a despotic and bigoted king, and placing 
on his throne, to the exclusion of the son who, according to 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOELD. 413 

customary right, would succeed to the vacancy, his daiighter 
and the foreign prince she had married. But it is a vain en- 
deavor to show that the ambitious prince and the heartless 
daughter were paragons of disinterested goodness and exqui- 
site feeling. So long as human nature is human nature, it will 
be out of the power of genius to render William and Mary 
amiable and lovely characters in the eyes of those who learn 
at their own hearthstones to believe that whatever punishment 
a man, be he king or peasant, may deserve, it is not for his 
own daughter, nor for his daughter's husband, to be alike the 
punishers and the profiters by the punishment. 

Scott, then, has a merit rare among even great historians — 
artistic impartiality. He has a merit, too, rare among even 
great novelists — a knowledge of the world exhibited through 
such types of character as are not effaceable by the mutations 
of time and manners. There is, in this last, a remarkable dis- 
tinction between Scott and Fielding, though Fielding describes 
the manners of his own time, and Scott those of earlier ages ; 
and yet, largely as Fielding's knowledge of the world was dis- 
played, that knowledge is still more comprehensive in Scott. 
In Scott there is a finer insight into those elements of social 
manners which are permanent, not fleeting — general, and not 
particular. And his survey of the society of past times owed 
its breadth and its verisimilitude to his perceptions and expe- 
rience of society in his own time. He gives xis innumerable 
examples of the class of gentleman and gentlewoman, and they 
ai'e always truthful to the enduring ideals of that class — ideals 
which no change of time or scene can render obsolete. But 
Fielding is not happy in the portraits of his ladies and gentle- 
men. There is no age of manners in w^hich a Tom Jones 
would not be somewhat vulgar, and a Lady Bellaston an offen- 
sive libel on womanhood ; while, in his most striking and fa- 
mous characters, taken from lower grades of life. Fielding lav- 
ishes his glorious humor and his rich vitality of creative power 
too much on forms that are not large types of mankind, but ec- 
centric individuals growing out of a special period in manners, 
which, nevertheless, they are too exceptional to characterize. 
And when, but a few years afterward, we look round to see 
the likeness of these images, we can not discover them. Thus, 
regarded in itself, what a creation of humorous phantasy is 
Parson Adams ! But probably, not even in that day, nor in 



414 KNOWLEDGE OP THE WORLD. 

any day, was Parson Adams a fair type of the English country 
clergyman ; and if it were so, it would still be one of those 
types of a class which remain unalterable in its main essentials. 
No human being that reminds us of Parson Adams could we 
how discover. In a lesser degree, the same remark may be 
applied to Squire Western, and even to Partridge. This fault 
in Fielding's more broadly humorous characters, if a fault (as, 
with profound reverence to that magnificent writer, I conceive 
it to be), is, at all events, not committed by Scott. Though 
many of his more broadly humorous characters have the dis- 
advantage, for cosmopolitan acceptation, of expressing them- 
selves in a Scotch dialect, only partially known to the English, 
and scarcely possible to translate into a foreign language irith- 
out loss to their subtler traits of personality, still they suggest 
parallels and likenesses among human beings in whatever so- 
ciety we are thrown. As long as the world lives there will be 
Major Dalgetties and Andrew Fairservices. I am here oppos- 
ing characters in either novelist which may be said to exem- 
plify knowledge of the world; where another knowledge is re- 
quired — a knowledge more appertaining to metaphysical phi- 
losophy, and requiring a depth of reflection which Scott very 
seldom exhibits, Fielding achieves characters which Scott 
could not have analyzed Avith the same skill, and in those char- 
acters Fielding creates types of generalities that are never ob- 
solete. Witness the masterly exposition of cant in Blifil — wit- 
ness the playful but profound satire on scholastic disputations 
in the bold sketches of Thwackum and Square — witness also 
that sublime irony upon false greatness which, in " Jonathan 
Wild," exemplifies the most refined reasonings through the 
rudest parables, and in the wild poetry of its burlesque ap- 
proaches the dignity of the heroic which it mocks. In "Jona- 
than Wild," Fielding is Yielding plus Lucian and Swift, and 
rivaling at times even the point and polish of Voltaire. 

There was, however, this difierence between Scott and Field- 
ing in their treatment even of humorous character : Fielding, 
where greatest — as in Blifil, Thwackum Square, Jonathan Wild 
— is satirical. He debases, to a certain degree, high concep- 
tions of humanity, in pulling down the false pretenses of im- 
postors. Decorum itself, that necessary accompaniment to 
social virtue, does not quite escape tlie contempt with which 
we regard Blifil as its spurious representative. The laugh at 



KNOWLEDGE OP THE AVOBLD. 415 

Thwackum and Square leaves a certain ridicule on the highest 
inquiries of intellectual philosophy; and, however happily 
false heroism may be burlesqued and bantered in " Jonathan 
Wild," still the aspirations of youth would fall to a level in- 
jurious to the grandeur of the people from which that youth 
sprang if the boy could regard as the true parallels to thieves 
and pickpockets a Julius CiEsar or an Alexander the Great. 
But Scott, like Shakspeare, deals very sparingly in satire ; in 
his employment of humor he never debases any of those ideals, 
the reverence for Avhich improves or exalts society. If his 
humorous characters, examined alone, provoke a smile at their 
cowardice or selfishness, beside them there always soar great 
images of valor and generosity. And in this distinction I 
think he shows both the superior beauty of his poetic art, and 
the more dispassionate and objective survey of mankind which 
belongs to his knowledge of the world. Certainly Scott, like 
Shakspeare and Goethe, had the advantage of living in a very 
noble age, and in an age which, on the whole, was eminently 
conciliatory. An age that enabled a Avriter to regard Napo- 
leon and Wellington as his contemjjoraries was one which 
made heroism familiar to the common talk of the day. But it 
was also a conciliatory age. Even in the midst of the Euro- 
pean war many circumstances tending to soften violent dis- 
sensions between honest and thoughtful minds were in opera- 
tion. There had grown up a spirit of tolerance in rehgious 
opinions which was almost wholly new in our modern era; for 
the tolerance which Voltaire demanded for the propagandists 
of Deism he certainly denied to the preachers of Christianity. 
Out of all the crimes and the madness of the latter days of the 
French Revolution there had arisen, almost unconsciously, a 
greater respect for humanity — a deeper conviction of that con- 
sideration and tenderness which governments owe to the 
masses they govern ; and, on the other hand, the attemj^t to 
erase from modern societies the veneration due to their own 
ancient foundations, and substitute instead (for men the most 
innovating never can get rid of the homage due to antiquity 
of some kind) a spurious, ignorant, superstitious worshi]) of 
old heathen republics, had awakened a desire to revive and re- 
cur to the genuine antiquity of our own northern Christian 
races. The first idea of this revival Avas caught by Chateau- 
briand in his " Genie du Christianisme" — a work wliich, de- 



416 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 

spite a thousand faults of sentimental exaggeration and inflated 
style, seized hold on the age, because it fulfilled a want of the 
age, and had, at its first publication, directly — has now, when 
few read the work, indirectly — an immense effect on the senti- 
ment of Euroj)e. Endowed with a higher j^oetic genius, adopt- 
ing a form infinitely more popular, and guided by a taste far 
more masculine than Chateaubriand's, Scott rose to nnite the 
reverence to what is best in our own genuine antiquity with 
what is best in our own genuine modern modes of thought. 
And this is really the chief merit of his affluent genius, and the 
main cause of his ascendent popularity throughout Europe, 
that he was at once conservative and liberal in the noblest 
sense of either hackneyed work — conservative in his concep- 
tion and portraiture of those great elements of the Christian 
Past which each Christian community of Euroj^e has employed 
in its progressive development ; liberal in the respect he shows 
to all that can advance our human destinies throughout the 
future — to valor, to honor, to conscience. Though his intellect 
did not lead him to philosophize, his grand, all-comprehending 
human heart achieved the large results of philosophy. Here 
is his advantage over Byron, who had, in remarkable degree, 
the temperament which leads men to philosophize, but wanted 
the disci2:)line of intellect which is necessary for the attainment 
of philosophy. But great poets never philosophize in vain ; 
and even in philosophy Lord Byron achieved a purpose not 
designed by himself. With many defects of hasty and even 
slovenly composition, and with notions of criticism as loose 
and inaccurate as were all his notions of abstract reasoning, 
Lord Byron expressed a something, in form more charming, 
despite its faults, than the world had yet known, which the 
world had long wanted to hear expressed, and for which, at 
that especial day, the world desired an utterance; for if there 
be a truth in the worM everlastingly general, and therefore 
eternally poetical, it is the absolute futility and hollo wness of 
earthly objects and sensual pleasures — in fact, that this world 
is a grand thing if held in reference to another, and a raiser- 
able thing if not. Byron's poetry is the expression of that 
truth more palpably, more to the conception of ordinary read- 
ers, than it had been hitherto expressed except by the Preach- 
er. And such is human nature, that if any thing is to be said 
witli effect against the pleasures of the world, we must have 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOELD. 417 

it said by some one who could command tliem. We laugh 
when Avo read an anecdote of a French poet who, at tlie ;ige 
of sixty, calls on the ladies of his acquaintance to tell them 
that he has renounced his worship to the goddess of Love: we 
should not laugh at, but rather feel an interest in the young- 
poet — i^robably not half so good a poet as the old one — who 
declared that he abjured the same goddess at the age of twen- 
ty-eight. When Moliere produced his " Misanthrope," it was 
supposed that he designed to portray himself as Alceste. The 
jDlay was not at first successful. What more natural than that 
a poor player should be a misanthrope ? But a rumor spread 
that Alceste was meant for a great duke, and then the popu- 
lar interest was excited. What more extraordinary than that 
a great duke should be a misanthrope? So with Byron's 
verse. A truth profound, and in itself intensely religious, was 
flung forth without religious sentiment — nay, rather in daring 
skepticism — by a man who possessed all which the world 
adulates, and who mourned or mocked its nothingness — the 
young noble, of lofty birth, and of a beauty so rare that only 
two types of masculine beauty, Avhich painters display, can 
match it, viz., those oflSTapoleon andRaflaelle! Here was a 
picture which brought out Avith striking force the moral, im- 
bedded in the midst of poetry, perhaps more striking to a 
thoughtful mind because it was not enforced by an austere 
preacher, but came as a wail from the lij^s of a skeptic. What 
Goethe has said of Byron I believe to be true, viz., " He was 
essentially a born poet." He had very little art, very little of 
the ordinary knowledge Avhich is essential to most writers, 
Avhether in prose or verse. One has but to read his Letter in 
defense of Pope against Bowles to j)erceive that he had never 
learned the elementary laws of criticism. His book-learning 
was not only inferior to that of Dryden, or even of Pope, but 
to that of any modern writer of mark in any country, Avith the 
solitary exception of Burns. And even when Ave speak of him 
as a born poet, we must allow that his earliest poems do not 
equal in merit Pojije's imitation of Horace at the age of four- 
teen. But poetry is not like music. In music a great com- 
jjoser shows what is in him while he is a child — in poetry the 
born poet may long linger before he chances on his rightful ut- 
tei'ance. Byron did not linger long; he chanced on an utter- 
ance that enthralled Europe before he Avas twenty-seven. Of 

S2 



418 KNOWLEDGE OP THE WORLD. 

all GUI' great poets since Milton, Byron and Scott are at once 
the most recognized by foreign nations, and yet owe the least 
to foreign poets. They owed nothing to the French, yet of 
all our poets they are those whom the French must conde- 
scend to imitate. If the French now study Shakspeare, it is 
because Scott and Byron allured them to study English. 

The extent to which I have already taxed, in this Essay, the 
patience of readers the gentlest — if, indeed, that patience has 
not long since refused to pay the impost — will not permit me 
the mention of some modern writers whose claims to knowl- 
edge of the world, as shown in their pages, ought not to be 
ignored. But the title of my Essay implies selection, and se- 
lection must be always arbitrary. Not having room for all, I 
must be contented with reiDresentative examples. I regret, 
even more than the omission of some modern writers, that I 
oan not widen the scope of my criticism by adequate reference 
to the ancient, viz,, the Latin and Greek. But even the frag- 
ments left to us of Publius Syrus, who is said to have been the 
special delight of Julius Cffisar, the most consummate man of 
the world who ever lived, would justify a critical essay as 
lengthened as this. Those fragments consist but in apothegms, 
many of which, ascribed to Syrus, are probably attributable to 
others ; yet the very imputation to him of sayings so exquisite 
attests his rank as the sayer of exquisite things ; and the sen- 
tences thus collectively fathered upon him evince a solidity 
and a splendor of intellect surpassing all which we can dis- 
cover in Terence and Plautus, and proving, not so much the 
amazing combination of wit and sagacity in the writer — since 
we are not sure that they all belong to the writer assigned — 
as the amazing civilization of the age out of which they grew, 
whosoever the writer might be. And it is these fragments, so 
little familiar to even the learned, that Sydney Smith, telling 
ns how the " Edinbiu'gh Review" came to be started, says, 
" We took our present grave motto from Publius Syrus, of 
whom none of us, I am sure, had ever read a single line :" it is 
these fragments which, when I am treating of the knowledge 
of the world, bring before me the obligations in that science, 
and in the literature familiarizing it, which we at this day owe 
to the Greek and Latin authors. Is there one of their merits 
which more serves to keep them everlastingly in vogue, and 
more emphatically distinguishes their genius from that of oth- 



KNOWLEDGE OP THE WOELD. 419 

er antique races, whether Oriental or Northern, than the tone 
and air of highly civilized European gentlemen in a highly civ- 
ilized European world ? 

The secret of what is called classic taste consists in the har- 
monious combination of manliness of sentiment with elegance 
of form. If I could sum up the general spirit of ancient liter- 
ature by one brief definition, I should say that it Avas the ex- 
pression of a nature highly poetical, highly imaginative, chas- 
tened by a commune with men of admirable common sense, 
accustomed to the strictness of scholastic reasoning, and rijoen- 
ed by intercourse with the living Avorld. In societies not char- 
acterized by the collisions and checks of a highly accomplished 
society fastidiously alive to vulgarity of language and to bom- 
bast in sentiment, the fancy even of genius, the reason even of 
pure intellect, is apt to run riot. Both the one and the other 
will tend to forsake Avhat we call the Practical, and, in forsak- 
ing it, to depart from the true Ideal ; for the true Ideal is the 
noble, chivalrous lover of the Practical, loth to quarrel Avith its 
earthly partner, CA'er seeking not to divorce, but to raise to its 
own rank that less high-born bride, to Avhich, for better or for 
Avorse, it is necessarily allied. 

Now Avhen we sj)eak, in our formal schools, of classic taste, 
and solemnly commend to our youthful listeners a study of the 
classic authors, we can not, unless we are the most servile of 
pedants, mean to imply any other check upon the divine free- 
dom and jDlay of imagination, so bold in the classic poets, than 
that which, even in the Homeric dawn of classical literature, 
the knoAvledge of man in his highest state of intellectual re- 
finement at the time in Avhich the Poet lived imposed on his 
phantasies. If Homer created, as Herodotus implies he did, 
the gods Avhom Greece Avorshiped, and Avho have long since 
perished, he also represented, in more unalterable types, the 
men Avhora Ave still behold. But Avhat, I apprehend, Ave mean 
to inculcate on om- pupils in commending to them the study 
of the classics, is that soundness of taste and judgment Avhich 
is formed by intercourse, not AA'ith one single Avriter or anothei', 
but Avith a literature extending over many centuries, and, on 
the whole, representing that harmonious union of imagination 
and reasoning Avhich forms the predominant characteristic of 
ancient classical literature. In this union Shakspeare, indeed, 
is moi-e classic than the classics to Avhom his romance is said 



420 KNOWLEDGE OP THE WORLD. 

by Formalists to be opposed. But in style or form there is a 
necessity for a common standard of taste, which it is the priv- 
ilege of dead languages to bestow. Howsoever we English 
admire Shakspeare, Ave should hesitate before we commended 
his form and style as a model. In truth, we should dislike or 
rebuke the writer who presumed to imitate the forn^of Shak- 
speare. We should cry "off" to the mimics who aped his walk. 
A language dead, and therefore eternally settled, has alone the 
prerogative of suggesting to all living races ideals of form 
which are cosmopolitan, not national — which can be tamely 
copied by none, yet afford standards of taste to all. 

ISTow, Avhile the classic poets authorize the highest flights to 
which healthful imagination can soar — while they throw open 
the gates of the supernatural, admitting familiar comiDanion- 
ship with deities and nymphs, and fauns and satyrs, enlarging 
the realm of fable to boundaries as remote from this world of 
fact as the wildest romance can desire, they still, regarded as 
a class, a general body, preserve sufliicient aflinities Avith human 
nature to secure what may be called the truthfulness of art to 
the inventions of their fancy. They rarely forsake the Prac- 
tical, as Goethe understood the word, when he applies it to the 
genius of the ever-idealizing Schiller, meaning thereby the 
strong sense which practicalizes the ideal to the common sym- 
pathies and comj)rehension of multitudes, while the classic 
prose-Avriters — though the scA^erest of them, as historians or 
philosophers, sometimes desert reason for fancy Avith a license 
Ave should be sorry noAvadays to concede to guides in philos- 
o^jhy and authorities in history — still embody a mass of solid 
truths, social and moral, Avhich makes them perennially mod- 
ern in AA^hat Ave call knoAvledge of the Avorld. 

Classic literature, in short, is so essentially characterized by 
that liberal suavity which Cicero terms " urbanitas," in con- 
tradistinction to Avhatever is narroAA^-minded, rude, underbred, 
superfine, and provincial — so thoroughly the literature of gen- 
tlemen in whatsoever phase of society or j^eriod of time the 
stem of humanity can put forth the floAver of gentleman, that 
the most polished communities of Europe to this day concur 
in the superstitious belief that there is something Avanting in 
the tone, spirit, breeding, by which gentlemen are distinguish- 
ed, in the man Avho, Avliatever his birth or his talents, is utterly 
ignorant of the classics. 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE AVOELD. 421 

111 public life, especially, such ignorance appears to make it- 
self felt. An orator in whom it exists rarely fails to say some- 
thing that jars on the taste or alienates the sympathy of an 
audience in which gentlemen form the majority. The audi- 
ence do not detect why — do not pedantically exclaim, "This 
orator knows nothing of Greek and Latin !" they rather mut- 
ter, " This orator does not know gentlemen ;" or, " He has 
mixed very little with the great world." 

Cicero finely observes, '•'•Inter hanc mtam peTpolUain hu- 
manitate, nihil tarn interest quam jus atque vis.^' And it is 
Jus atque vis which seem, as a whole, to form the style by 
which classic literature expresses — vitcnn 2)er20olitam. 

Probably knowledge of the world in its widest and healthiest 
development is not often exhibited by writers in states of so- 
ciety in which there do not exist at once a tolerant freedom 
of opinion, if not of institutions — as the former freedom, at 
least, existed in France even under the old regime — and the 
polished language which that opinion acquires from the con- 
verse of a class raised above the mercantile business of life. 

Free institutions necessarily tend to the wider range and. 
securer jDrivileges of free opinions. The Greek eupatrid or 
the Roman patrician, who had to court the votes of his phyle 
or of his client, could not fail to acquire a large and liberal ac- 
quaintanceship not only with the selfish interests, but with the 
nobler motive -springs of impassioned multitudes, such as is 
shown inThucydides or Cicero; and as all knowledge becomes, 
as it were, atmospheric, and, once admitted into the common 
air of a place, is generally inhaled, so even poets, aloof from 
the arena of politicians, caught that generous influence from 
the very breath they drew in, and express it in their j)ages. 
But still the tone of a society refined by aristocratic distinc- 
tions is apparent in the elegance with which the classic writ- 
ers utter the sentiments popular with the crowd. 

But if, in forms of government which exclude free political 
institutions, though admitting great latitude of literary speech, 
knowledge of the world is apt to become too naiTowed to that 
of a privileged circle, so, on the other hand, in forms of gov- 
ernment so popular as to exclude admitted differences of rank, 
I know of no writers in whom knowledge of the world is a 
conspicuous attribute. The United States of America have 
produced authors remarkable for number and excellence, con- 



422 KjStowledge of the woeld. 

sideving the briefness of period during which the American 
repubUc has existed — remarkable even for national originality, 
considering the disadvantage of writing in a language appro- 
priated already to enduring masterpieces in the parent state. 
But while, in science and philosophical discussion, in theology, 
in poetry, and prose fiction, democratic America is rich in 
works which command just admiration, the main fault of her 
authorship, and indeed of her statesmanship, in dealing with 
foreign countries, has been the want of that comity — that inef- 
fably urbane wisdom which has its expression in good bi'eed- 
ing, and without which knowledge of the world has the air of 
a clever attorney in sharp practice. The absence of a fixed 
and permanent order of refined society, with its smile at the 
bombast and balderdash that captivate the vulgar, seems to 
lessen the quick perception of genius to the boundaries be- 
tween good taste and bad ; so that when I read the printed 
orations of American statesmen, I find a sentence of Avhich a 
Grattan might have been proud followed by a tawdry clap- 
trap of which even a Hunt would have been ashamed. The 
poets of the Anglo-Saxon family, escaping from the popular 
life, and following the muse in the retirement of their groves 
or their closets, eliminate from their graceful verse knowledge 
of the world altogether ; they often philosophize on man in 
the abstract, but they neither depict in their drama, nor adorn 
in their lyrics, nor moralize in their didactic vein upon the act- 
ual world, which the ideal world surrounds with a purer at- 
mosphere, but from which it draws up the particles it incorpo- 
rates in its rays of light, or the vapors it returns in dews. 
Shakspeare places alike a Miranda and a Stephano in the En- 
chanted Isle which has Caliban and Ariel for its dwellers ; and 
Horace invokes now a Tyndaris, now a Maecenas, to the cool 
of the valley resonant with the pipe of Faunus. 

Perhaps, of all American writers, in Washington Irving the 
polite air of the man of the European world is the most seen ; 
but then, of all American writers, Washington Irving is the 
one who most sedulously imitated, and most happily caught, 
the spirit of European writers, formed under aristocratic as 
well as popular influences ; of all American writers, he is thus 
the least American, In fact, European life, whetlier among 
the ancients, as in Athens or Rome, or among the modern 
civilized races, struggles perpetually for the political ascenden- 



KNOWLEDGE OP THE WOELD. 423 

cy of the people, but ever also seeks to preserve a siiiDerior so- 
cial influeuce to a class in which the sense of honor is an an- 
cestral duty — the observance of polished manners a traditional 
charge ; and if ever, in any one of the great nations of Europe, 
such a class should wholly disappear, that nation will lose its 
distinctive European character. 

Knowledge of the world, in its widest signification, is the 
knowledge of civilized humanity, and its artistic expression 
will be consummate in proportion as its range comprehends 
what is most general in humanity, and its tone represents what 
is most refined in civilized manners. By knowledge of the 
world we mean something more than knowledge of a class, 
whether the class comprise the idlers of May Fair or the oper- 
atives of Manchester, But in the mind of a great artist se- 
lecting either May Fair or Manchester for his scene and his 
characters, there is no demagogue's hatred of idlers, and no 
coxcomb's contempt of workmen. Both classes represent sec- 
tions of humanity which go back to the earliest date T»f human 
records, and may possibly endure to their last. 

I started with saying that knowledge of the world, where 
the world's condition is not unhealthful, though it may be be- 
low the average morality of sages, and must comprehend a 
survey of error, vice, crime, as well as of truth, virtue, inno- 
cence, does not necessarily vitiate the student of it, any more 
than the study of the human frame vitiates the pathologist. 
Only where the society to which the range of the observer is 
confined is thoroughly corrupt would it, almost of necessity, 
infect the moral health of its philosophical student, Avhether by 
acquiescence in its example, as may be the case Avith natures 
too yielding and soft, or by scorn and wrath at the example, 
as would be the case with natures too irascible and severe ; 
for, as I have before said, however justly provoked scorn and 
wrath may be, no mind can be habitually in a state of scorn 
and wrath without some deterioration of the qualities essential 
to virtue. ^'' Jra, 2^€ssimtcs consult or?'' It would be difiicult 
to reconcile any notions or theories of human goodness with 
creeds from which indulgence, charity, tolerance, philanthropy 
are excluded as unworthy compromises with human evil. 

Now our world at this epoch, though I do not desire to flat- 
ter, is certainly not one which would justify Thales in bidding 
farewell to it. If we consult history in an unprejudiced, unsu- 



424 KNOWLEDGE OF THE WOKLD. 

perstitious spirit, I do not think we shall find that the world, 
regarded as a whole, has ever been much better than it is now? 
and in many important resj^ects it has been much worse. I 
speak more especially of the world in my own country, which 
at this moment is certainly a more humane, peaceable, orderly, 
moral, decorous, yet good-natured world than it ever seems to 
have been, from the date of the last George up to that of the 
first William. If I look back to the chronicles of the eight- 
eenth century — nay, if I look back only so far as the year in 
which I left college, I am startled at the visible improvement. 
I do not say that those rai-e individuals who stand forth as the 
landmarks of time were not possibly much greater, and, con- 
sidering the temptations that begirt them, much better than 
individuals nowadays. I honor the reverence to noble tombs 
too implicitly to believe that any living great man can equal a 
dead great man. A dead great man is a shrined ideal of ex- 
cellence; a living great man is a struggling fellow -mortal. 
The oneH Hercules assoiled from mortal stain when separated 
from mortal labor, who has ascended from the fire-pile to the 
Nectar Hall of Olympus ; but the other is the Hercules who, 
if at one time he is valiantly slaying the Hydra and calmly 
braving the very Powers of Orcus, is seen at another time the 
effeminate slave of Omphale, or the frenzied murderer of Iphi- 
tus. But the progress of society has very fallacious milestones 
in the monuments we erect to apotheosized individuals. What- 
ever my admiration for Alexander — and, in spite of Mr. Grote, 
it is intense — Alexander's march through Asia affords me no 
gleam of intelligence as to the advance of his Macedonian peo- 
ple in the theories of political government or ethical doctrine. 
What I see in England, comparing this century with the 
last, or comparing even the date in which I now Avrite with 
the date in Avhich I wrote first, is the advancement of numbers, 
the more general culture of intellect, the milder constructions 
of law, the greater tenderness to suffering and erring human- 
ity, the more decent respect to domestic sanctities, the more 
intellectual — not xmreasoning — acquiescence in religious 
truths ; and, therefore, looking at the world as reflected in the 
microcosm of my own country, through all gradations of soci- 
ety, from the palace to the cottage, and through all sections of 
opinion, from that of the j^ulpit to that of a club, it seems to 
me that a writer of our day and land, aspiring to ianio fo- 



KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD. 425 

knowledge of the world, would view that world, not with the 
abhorrence of Juvenal, not with the despair of venerable Bede, 
but with as indulgent a charity as that which makes Shak- 
speare and Goethe so lovably mild and so genially wise. Still, 
the world is the Avorld, and it is not Utopia. Even in our own 
England, no doubt, there is mitch that is very bad, and we var^ 
nisli it over by what in vernacular vulgarism is called " cant," 
while out of England there are many things which revolt our 
English preconceived opinions. 

There is, therefore, quite enough material left for either 
Muse, the tragic or the comic — quite enough left for the grave 
reproof of philosophy, or the light ridicule of satire ; but the 
writer in either of these developments of his natural genius 
who shall seek to Avin general and permanent repute for his 
knowledge of the Avorld we live in, will find that the same 
greater mildness of manners which would render lis shocked 
at the judgments our courts of law passed on offenders a cen- 
tury ago, would also indispose us to alloy/ to writers the truc- 
ulent sentences upon human error which then were considered 
the just denunciations of outraged virtue. 

Whether the world be better, as I believe, or worse, as some 
fond worshipers of the past maintain, it is quite clear that the 
world does not nowadays think it can be improved by the old- 
fashioned modes of hanging, and branding, and pillorying, or 
of scoffing, and scolding, and snubbing, which it so cheerfully 
accepted as salutary mortifications from the hands and tongues 
of our ancestors. 

And in the writer to whom we accord knowledge of the 
world in this our day of it, we shall expect to find that large 
toleration which has grown out of a wisdom more lenient, and 
that well-bred urbanity of tone which succeeds to the boorish- 
ness of vituperation, in proportion as the refinement of intel- 
lectual and social culture has become more diffused through- 
out the various ranks of the public. 



ESSAY XXVI. 

Euhrs nl Wxiitu. 

Reading without purpose is sauntering, not exercise. More 
is got from one book on which the thought settles for a defi- 
nite end in knowledge, than from libraries skimmed over by a 
wandering eye. A cottage flower gives honey to the bee, a 
king's garden none to the butterfly. 

Youths who are destined for active careers, or ambitious of 
distinction in. such forms of literature as require freshness of 
invention or originality of thought, should avoid the habit of 
intense study for many hovn'S at a stretch. There is a point 
in all tension of the intellect beyond which effort is only waste 
of strength. Fresh ideas do not readily spring up within a 
weary brain ; and whatever exhausts the mind not only enfee- 
bles its power, but narrows its scope. We often see men who 
have overread at college entering upon life as languidly as if 
they were about to leave it. They have not the vigor to cope 
with their own generation ; for their own generation is young, 
and they have wasted the nervous energy which supplies the 
sinews of war to youth in its contests for fame or fortune. 

Study with regulai-ity, at settled hours. Those in the fore- 
noon are the best, if they can be secured. The man who has 
acquired the habit of study, though for only one hour every 
day in the year, and keeps to the one thing studied till it is 
mastered, will be startled to see the way he has made at the 
end of a twelvemonth. 

He is seldom overworked who can contrive to be in advance 
of his work. If you have three weeks before you to learn 
something which a man of average quickness could learn in a 
week, learn it the first week, and not the third. Business dis- 
patched is business well done, but business hurried is business 
ill done. 

In learning what others have thought, it is well to keep in 



428 READERS AND WRITERS. 

practice the power to think for one's self: v/hen an author has 
added to your knowledge, pause and consider if you can add 
nothing to his. 

Be not contented to have learned a problem by heai't ; try 
and deduce from it a corollary not in the book. 

Spare no pains in collecting details before you generalize; 
but it is only when details are generalized that a truth is grasp- 
ed. The tendency to generalize is universal with all men who 
achieve great success, whether in art, literature, or action. The 
habit of generalizing, though at first gained with care and cau- 
tion, secures, by practice, a comprehensiveness of judgment 
and a promptitude of decision which seem to the crowd like 
the intuitions of genius. And, indeed, nothing more distin- 
guislies the man of genius from the mere man of talent than 
the Yacility of generalizing the various details, each of which 
demands the ajDtitude of a special talent, but all of which can 
be only gl^thered into a single whole by the grasp of a mind 
which may have no special aptitude for any. 

Invention implies the power of generalization, for an inven- 
tion is but the combining of many details known before into a 
new Avhole, and for new results. 

Upon any given point, contradictory evidence seldom puz- 
zles the man who has mastered the laws of evidence, but he 
knows little of the laws of evidence who has not studied the 
tm^vritten law of the human heart ; and without this last knowl- 
edge a man of action will not attain to the practical, nor will a 
poet achieve the ideal. 

He who has no sympathy never knows the human heart ; 
but the obtrusive parade of sympathy is incomjiatible with 
dignity of character in a man, or with dignity of style in a 
writer. Of all the virtues necessary to the completion of the 
perfect man, there is none to be more delicately implied and 
less ostentatiously vaunted than that of exquisite feeling or 
universal benevolence. 

In science, address the few ; in literature, the many. In sci- 
ence, the few must dictate opinion to the many ; in literature, 
the many, sooner or later, force their judgment on the few\ 
But the few and the many are not necessarily the few and the 
many of the passing time; for discoverers in science have not 
imoften, in their own day, had the few against tliem, and writ- 
ers the most permanently popular not unfrequently found, in 



EEADEKS AND WEITEES. 429 

theii' own day, a frigid reception from the many. By the few, 
I mean those who must ever remain the few, from whose dicta 
we, the multitude, take fame upon trust ; by the many, I mean 
those who constitute the multitude in the long run. We take 
the fame of a Harvey or a Newton upon trust, from the ver- 
dict of the few in successive generations ; but the few could 
never persuade us to take poets and novelists on trust. We,- 
the many, judge for ourselves of Shakspeare and Cervantes. 

He who addresses the abstract reason addresses an aiidience 
that must forever be limited to the few ; he who addresses the 
passions, the feelings, the humors, which w^e all have in com- 
mon, addresses an audience that must forever compose the 
many. But either writer, in joroportion to his ultimate re- 
nown, embodies some new truth, and new truths require new 
generations for cordial welcome. This much I would say 
meanwhile. Doubt the permanent fame of any Avork of science 
which makes immediate reputation with the ignorant multi- 
tude ; doubt the permanent fame of any woi'k of imagination 
•which is at once applauded by a conventional clique that styles 
itself " the critical few." 



ESSAY XXVII. 

In every political state which admits of the free expression 
of opinion, it is a trite commonplace to say that there will al- 
ways be two main divisions of political reasoners, viz., a class 
predisposed to innovate, a class predisposed to conserve. But 
there will be also two other divisions of reasoners, sometimes 
blended with, often distinct fror», those that have just been de- 
fined, viz., a class predisjDosed to all theories that strengthen 
the power of the body governed, and a class predisposed to 
all doctrines that confirm the authority of the body governing. 
Prevalent with the one is a passion for political liberty, which, 
when caiTied to extreme, is fanatical ; prevalent with the oth- 
er is a reverence for civil cvder, which, when carried to ex- 
tremej, is superstitious. It c^ies no;*; necessarily happen that 
the class most predisposed to conserve is identical with the 
class most inclined to confirm tha stvay of the governing body, 
nor that the class most predisposed ito innovate should be that 
most inclined to strengthen the bo^'lj*- governed. There are 
times when political liberty is cleanly with the conservative 
side, and its loss is insured by the t) inmph of the innovating. 
Caesar was an innovator, Brutus a coM^^ej* native ; but the cause 
of freedom was certainly with Brutis, t^-ud not with Cffisar. 
In democratic republics, we may, indt^ed,, fairly assume that 
the liberties their institutions comprise are ppposed to innova- 
tion. Thus the American Constitution presents a check to all 
tamperings with its main princiiDles which no existent constitu- 
tional monarchy has secured. The Constitution of the United 
States can not be legally altered by the votes of a mere major- 
ity. Such alteration requires the votes of two thirds of the 
Assembly, So, more or less, in every community where a con- 
siderable degree of political freedom is possessed by the peo- 
ple, experiments which seem to involve any hazards to the du- 
ration of the liberties existing, though proflered as extensions 



432 THE SPIRIT OF CONSERVATISM. 

and accelerants of their action, may be regarded, by the most 
devoted friends of a people's freedom, with the same disfavor 
with which the trustee for the enjoyers of a solid estate Avould 
listen to proi^osals to hazard iDimctual rents and solid acres for 
shares in a company which offers 20 per cent, and the chances 
of bankruptcy. 

It is with liberty as with all else worth having in life. The 
first thing is to get it, the next thing is to keep it, the third 
thing is to increase what we have. But if we are not without 
common prudence, our wariness in speculation is in proportion 
to the amount of the property we already j^ossess. In desper- 
ate circumstances, it is worth hazarding a shilling to gain a 
plum. In aiSuence, it is not worth hazarding a plum to gain 
a shilling. 

" Nothing venture, nothing have," says, not imwisely, the 
young daredevil w^ho can scarcely be worse off than he is. 
" Venture all and have nothing," says, at least as wisely, the 
middle-aged millionaire, besieged by ingenious projectors, who, 
proving to his complete satisfaction that English funds yield 
but a small interest, invite him to exchange his stock in con- 
sols for shares in the wonderful diamond-mines just discover- 
ed in the Mountains of the Moon. * 

Why do English funds yield lis but 3^ per cent., when we 
can get twice as much in the Spanish, and almost thrice as 
much in the Turkish ? Simply because, though the interest is 
smaller, the capital is more secure. 

The capital of English freedom is the accumulation of cen- 
turies, and the interest derived from it, as compared with that 
of younger free states, is to be computed at the difference be- 
tween the rent of soil lately wrung from the wilderness, and 
that which is paid for the building-ground of cities. 

I am, and, as long as I live, I believe I shall be, a passionate 
lover of freedom. Individually, freedom is the vital necessity 
of my being. I can not endure to cripple my personal free- 
dom for any thing less than my obligation to duty. What I, 
as man, thus prize for myself, I assume that each community 
of men should no less ardently prize. 

jSTow a man will develo]) his uses, and tend toward the near- 
est approach to the perfectibility of his being, in proi^ortion as 
freedom and duty so harmonize in his motives and actions that, 
in his ordinary course of life, he can scarcely distinguish one 



THE SPIRIT OF CONSERVATISM. 433 

from the other. If I desire and will do that which I ought to 
do, and desire and will not do that which I ought not to do, 
my freedom and my duty are i^ractically one ; ray restraints 
are in reality the essential properties of my own nature. If, 
for instance, the principle of honor has become part and parcel 
of my mind, I can not pick pockets — the law against picking 
pockets is no restraint on me. If the law permitted me to do 
so, I still should not and could not pick a pocket. 

As it is with a man, so it is with a state ; that state will be 
the best in which liberty and order so, as it were, fuse into 
each other, that the conditions prescribed by order are not felt 
as restraints on liberty. 

And as with a man, so with a state ; the amalgamation of 
freedom and duty is the unconscious result of habit — the cus- 
tom of liberty incorporates with its motives and actions the 
custom of order. 

Any violent or sudden change in the condition of this mar- 
riage-bond between freedom and duty must inflict a shock on 
their union. If the habitual use of my freedom in certain di- 
rections has always led me to a definite course of duties, you 
can not abruptly alter those duties but what you must impair 
my freedom. 

Thus, where the mind of a nation has been so formed by its 
institutions that all the restraints imposed by law are made by 
custom consentaneous to the normal operations of liberty, you 
can not raise up new institutions, enforcing restraints to which 
liberty is unfamiliar, but what you sow the seeds of a quai'rel 
between liberty and order. 

Hence even a mere change of dynasty, though in itself it 
may be the best for liberty and order in a later generation, 
will often sever liberty from order for the generation on which 
it is brought to bear. 

The introduction of the Guelphs to the exclusion of the Stu- 
arts was no doubt a fortunate event for the ultimate destinies 
of the British nation ; but, for the then living race, it shocked 
the liberty of those who honored the old line, and imperiled 
order to those who preferred the new. 

Although the laws went on the same under George the 
Guelph as under Anne the Stuart — although scarcely one in 
ten thousand of those whom the change disaffected could have 
been worse off" or better off for the name of the king on the 

T 



434 THE SPIRIT OF CONSERVATISM. 

throne — still, what was loyalty to one part of the people 
seemed treason to the other part. The result was rebellion in 
those who conceived that their liberty of choice in the election 
of their sovereign was aggrieved; and, so far as we can judge, 
that rebellion would have been successful if Charles Edward 
had marched upon London instead of retreating from Derby. 
Had the rebellion been successful, those over whom it tri- 
umphed would have thought their liberty aggrieved. Time 
is the only reconciler — that is, change ceases to intei'rupt the 
union of liberty and order when it ceases to be felt as change, 
and when custom has again brought about the union which 
the infringement of custom had severed. 

But where, instead of a dynasty, it is a change of institu- 
tions, aftecting all the habitual relationships between duty and 
freedom in the minds of citizens, the danger, if less violent, is 
likely to prove more mortal to the well-being of the communi- 
ty. Freedom, and all its noblest consequences in the develop- 
ment of intellectual riches, may, we will say for the sake of ar- 
gument, be equally operative under a constitutional monarchy 
or a well-educated democracy. But if all the habits of jDolit- 
ical thought and motive have been formed under the one, they 
could not be transferred to the other without that revolution 
of the entire system which no organized body can long sur- 
vive. If I were an American, I should regard as the worst 
affliction that could befall my country the substitution for de- 
mocracy, with all its faults, of a constitutional monarchy, with 
all its merits, because my countrymen would have been accus- 
tomed to associate their elementary ideas of liberty with re- 
publican institutions; so, being an Englishman, I should re- 
gard it as the worst infliction that could befall my countrymen 
to substitute for constitutional monarchy a democratic repub- 
lic, because all their habits of mind are formed on the notion 
that liberty, on the whole, is safer, and the dignity of life is 
higher, where the institutions essential to the duration of con- 
stitutional monarchy make the representatives of the public 
interests other than the paid servants of a class that must of 
necessity be the least educated and the most excitable. 

The fovorite reproach to a conservative policy is, that it is 
not in favor of progress. But there is nothing in a conserva- 
tive policy antagonistic to progress ; on the contraiy, resistance 
to progress is destructive to conservatism. 



THE SPIRIT OF CONSERVATISM. 435 

Political conservatism can but seek the health and longevity 
of the political body it desires to conserve. To a state, prog- 
ress is as essential as exercise is to a man ; but a state has this 
advantage over a man, that while it is in robust health, its 
mere exercise must, of necessity, be progress. If Science is 
always experimenting, if Art is always inventing, if Commerce 
is always exchanging, if looms are always at work, the state 
can not fail to make progress; whereas I, as individual man, 
can not say that my habitual walk is always in the direction 
of a journey toward objects yet unreached, or my habitual oc- 
cupation in my study necessarily conducive to the discovery 
of a new triith. 

Anation's habitual employment, while the nation is in health, 
is, then, of necessity reproductive ; a man's is not. 

Therefore a true conservative policy is for a nation the pol- 
icy of progress, because without exercise the body politic 
would languish and die ; and with exercise it must, if in health, 
augment the resources which furnish strength against external 
enemies, and, by widening the markets of labor, interest a 
wider range of citizens in the maintenance of domestic order. 

But progress does not mean transformation ; it means the 
advance toward the fullest development offerees of which any 
given human organization, whether it be a man's or a society's, 
is capable. What is progress in one state may be paralysis to 
another. Each state is an integral unity; it has, when free, 
not otherwise — -as man, when free, not otherwise — the powers 
within itself to improve all the faculties which it takes from 
birth. It can not, any more than a man can do, alter its whole 
idiosyncrasies into those of another organized unity which you 
present to it as a model. 

Suppose you had said to Shakspeare, "Friend, you have 
considerable talents; do not throw them away on the con- 
temptible occupation of a play-writer. Be a philosopher. 
Look at your contempoi'ary Bacon : how much higher is his 
fame and his station than yours! You are ambitious of prog- 
ress — be a Bacon !" 

If Shakspeare had listened to your advice he Avould not 
have been a Shakspeai'e, and it is my belief that he would not 
have been a Bacon. If, on the other hand, you had said to 
Bacon, " Friend, you have very great genius, especially in the 
Btudy of nature. But see how all schools of philosophy perish. 



436 THE SPIRIT OF CONSERVATISM. 

You are destroying the authority of Aristotle, to be destroyed 
yourself by some other bold guesser hereafter. Poets alone 
are sure of immortality ; they are the truest diviners of nature. 
You put dov/n Aristotle, but who can put down Horace ? He 
who writes prose builds his temple to Fame in rubble; he 
who writes verse builds it in granite. Write poems — poetry 
is clearly a progress from prose. Write a tragedy out of one 
of those novels on your table, ' Romeo and Juliet,' or ' Othello.' " 

Had Bacon taken your advice, he would not have been a 
Bacon ; my belief is that he Avould never have been a Shak- 
speare. It is the same with states ; the more highly they are 
gifted in one development of faculties, the less 'it would be 
progress to turn aside to another. Each leading state in civil- 
ized Europe has its idiosyncrasies ; its real pi'ogress is in de- 
veloping those idiosyncrasies ; its real annihilation of its own 
highest attributes would be to exchange its own for the idio- 
syncrasies of another state. 

Conservatism, rightly considered, is the policy which con- 
serves the body politic in the highest condition of health of 
Avhich it is capable, compatible with longevity. I make that 
reserve, because a man Avho has passed the elastic season of 
youth may attain to a higher condition of muscular strength 
by putting himself under a trainer, or scaling the Swiss mount- 
ains, but in so doing he may sow the germs of some malady 
which will shorten his life. 

Conservatism accepts cheerfully the maxim of Bentham, 
" the greatest happiness of the greatest number," provided it 
may add this indispensable condition, " for the longest period 
of time." The greatest hapj^iness of the greatest number may 
consist, for the moment, in the greatest number having their 
own way in something which will be their greatest misery in 
the long run. The greatest number in the reign of King 
James the First thought it was especial happiness to put to 
death the old women whom they believed to be witches. The 
greatest happiness of the greatest number on board a ship may 
be, for the moment, to get at the rum-barrels, and shoot down 
the captain Avho stands in their way. But it is not for the 
greatest happiness of any population, in the long run, to admit 
sanguinary superstitions into their criminal code, nor for the 
greatest happiness of a crew, in the long run, to get drunk and 
to murder their captain. 



THE SPIRIT OF CONSERVATISM. 437 

Duration is an essential element of all plans for happiness, 
private or public ; and conservatism looks to the durable in 
all its ideas of improvement. 

But duration means the duration of a something definite in 
politics ; that something is the body politic — the Nation. A 
conservative party must be national, or it is nothing. 

Now in politics there are two grand theories, each antago- 
nistic to all principles mean and selfish. The one theory is Phi- 
lanthropy, the other Patriotism — a care for the whole human 
race, or a care for the whole community to which we belong. 
The tendency of the more popular party will be toward the 
first, the tendency of the less popular party toward the last. 
In the popular sentiment of masses, the cause of fellow-men 
creates more enthusiasm than the interests of fellow-country- 
men. Oligarchies, on the other hand, have small regard for 
mankind in the concrete, but are capable of great enthusiasm 
for a state. It is diflicult to conceive more passionate devotion 
for a state than was shown by the oligarchies of Sparta and 
Venice. In communities which admit to the masses a large 
share of political power, a conservative statesman must consult 
that sentiment of universal philanthropy which in itself is no- 
ble, but not at the hazard of the state, which must be his first 
care. Masses could easily be led to a war against some abso- 
lute sovereign oppressing his subjects — oligarchies in alliance 
with the sovereign might assist him to oppress his subjects. 
The conservative statesman of a free country remains neutral. 
It is not for the good of his country to lavish blood and treas- 
ure on the internal quarrels of other countries. By here con- 
sulting Patriotism, he in truth advances Philanthropy, for it is 
to the benefit of all nations that each nation should settle its 
own quarrels for itself. 

Patriotism is a safer principle, both for a state and the hu- 
man race, than Philanthropy. Sancho Panza administering his 
island is a better model than Don Quixote sallying forth to 
right the wrongs of the xmiverse. 

Philanthropy, like glory, is a circle in the water, 
"Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself, 
Till by broad spreading it disperse to naught." 

But an enlightened love of country comprehends the objects 
of Philanthropy, without making Philanthropy its avowed ob- 
ject ; that is to say, a man who has an enlightened love for his 



438 THE SPIRIT OP CONSERVATISM. 

country will seek to identify its interests with a just and hu- 
mane policy — with scrupulous faith in the fulfillment of en- 
gagements — with a respect as inviolably preserved toward 
weak as toward strong powers — not only of the law, but of 
the comity of nations ; and thus, in a word, he will strive to 
render the well-being of the state to which he belongs condu- 
cive to the catholic and enduring interests of the varied com. 
munities of mankind. But just as an individual would become 
an intolerable plague to his neighbors if he were always inter- 
fering with their domestic afiairs, though with the best inten- 
tions, so a weak state would become ridiculous, and a strong 
state tyrannical, if, under the pretext of general philanthropy, 
it sought to force its own notions of right or wrong, of liberty 
or order, upon states not subjected to its sovereignty. As it is 
only through self-development that any community can mature 
its own elements of happiness or grandeur, so non-inteiwention 
is in truth the policy not more of wisdom than of respect for 
humanity, without which love for humanity is an intermed- 
dling mischief-maker. Nevertheless, where the internal feuds 
of any one nation assume a character so formidable as to 
threaten the peace of other nations, intervention may become 
the necessity of self-preservation. But the plea of self-preser- 
vation should be irrefragably a sound one, and not, as it usually 
is, an excuse for self-aggrandizement, in profiting by the dissen- 
sions which the intermeddler foments for his own crafty ends. 
It has been a question frequently discussed of late, and by 
no means satisfactorily settled, how far non-interference in the 
domestic feuds of other nations admits of the frank expression 
of opinion — the freedom of remonsti'ance — the volunteered 
suggestion of a policy. But in free communities it would be 
utterly impossible for a minister to refrain from conveying to 
a foreign government the public sentiment of his country. 
The popular chamber would not allow him to be silent where 
a popular cause seemed at stake. To express opinions — to 
address remonstrances — are acts in themselves perfectly com- 
patible with friendship, provided the tone be friendly ; but for 
one government to volunteer, in detail, schemes of policy for 
the adoption of another independent government, is seldom a 
prudent venture. It is too calculated to wound the dignity 
of the state advised not to provoke an answer which wounds 
the dignity of the state advising. Exceptions may arise, but 



THE SPIRIT OF CONSERVATISM. 439 

they should be regarded with great caution ; for there is 
scarcely an exception that does not engender on both sides 
those resentments of mortified self-esteem which, if they do 
not suffice to create war at once, render states more disjDosed 
to find excuses for war later. 

Political freedom is, or ought to be, the best guarantee for 
the safety and continuance of spiritual, mental, and civil free- 
dom. It is the combination of numbers to secure the liberty 
of each one. 

Therefore, as each community is a life in itself, so each com- 
munity, to be free, should be independent of others. 

Every state, to be independent, must contain the elements 
of a power sufficient, under all existent circumstances, Avithout 
it and within, to maintain itself. 

It may not, if a small and weak state, be able in itself to 
stand against any one powerful aggressive neighbor, but it 
may so enlist the interests of all its neighbors, that if one at- 
tacks it, all the others will combine to defend it. This is the 
case of Switzerland. All Euro2:)e has this interest in Switzei'- 
land, that it would be unsafe for Europe that Switzerland 
should be ingulfed either by Austria or by France. The in- 
terest of Euroj^e guarantees the independence of Switzerland. 

Alliances tending to check any one state from invading 
others are the natural precaution of a conservative policy. 
The choice of such alliances, the conditions to which they 
pledge us, are questions, not of principle, but of expediency ; 
they belong, not to all time, but to each time, bringing forth 
its own mutable causes of apprehension. And here for states- 
manship there can be no precise rule, because in time there is 
no exact precedent. 

To sum up : The true conservative policy in any given state 
is in self-preservation ; and self-preservation does not confine 
itself to the mere care for existence, but extends to all that 
can keep the body politic in the highest state of health and 
vigor ; therefore pi'ogress and development offerees are essen- 
tial to self-preservation. But, according to a conservative 
policy, such progress and such development will always be en- 
couraged with a due regard to the idiosyncratic character of 
a state, such as it has been made by time and circumstance — 
to the institutions which have not only become endeared to it 
by custom, but have contributed to consolidate the national 



440 THE SPIEIT OF CONSERVATISM. 

unity by forming and systematizing the national spirit and 
mind. A conservative policy in England will favor peace, if 
only because England is essentially a commercial common- 
wealth, and its real sinews of strength are in its financial re- 
sources. War exposes commerce to hazard, and financial re- 
sources to an indefinite drain. It is true that foreign wars, 
however unpopular, never or rarely produce intestine rebellion, 
but the financial distress which follows a war the most popu- 
lar is the most dangerous cause of revolutions. Nevertheless, 
a commei'cial community can not accept peace at all hazards, 
because no commerce would be long safe under a flag dis- 
honored or despised. A conservative policy in England w^ould 
vigilantly guard our maritime powder, and spare no cost neces- 
sary to maintain a navy superior to that of any other single 
Eurojjean power, but it would regard Avith great jealousy any 
attempt to maintain, in England itself, more than the Avell-dis- 
ciplined nucleus and framework of a standing army. It has 
to conserve political liberty as the most precious of all heir- 
looms ; and a nation once reconciled to the maintenance of 
large standing armies submits its liberties to the mercy of ac- 
cident. A state must, for durability, as I have said, conserve 
its special national character ; and the national character of 
England will be lost whenever it shall see wdth apathy large 
standing armies within its own shores. One of the obvious 
advantages of military colonies is the facility they afford for 
maintaining therein such military strength as may be necessary 
for the protection of the empire, without quartering large 
bodies of troops in England, to the danger of freedom ; and 
therefore it is a very shallow view of imperial policy to ascribe 
solely to our colonial wants the military forces kept in colo- 
nies, and exclaim, " See what those colonies cost us !" If we 
had no troops in colonies, we must either be without adequate 
military force, or we must obtain such adequate military force 
at the risk of freedom, by collecting and converging it into 
garrisons at home. 

Prudence in the administration of finance is the character- 
istic virtue of a conservative policy, for every form of govern- 
ment in wdiich the expenditure habitually exceeds the income 
is doomed to undergo a vital change. The more hopelessly the 
finances are disordered, the more violent, in all probability, the 
change will be. Thus despotic governments may become de- 



THE SPIRIT OF CONSERVATISM. 441 

mocratized, and republican institutions may become monarch- 
ical. 

Lastly, the statesman who would maintain a conservative 
policy for England has always to bear in mind that any state 
which attains to a wealth, an influence, a grandeur dispropor- 
tioned to its native population or the extent of its native do- 
minion, owes its rank rather to causes that may be called com- 
plicated and artificial than to causes simple and natural. The 
prosperity and power of France recover with a bound after 
numerous shocks upon internal order and commercial credit ; 
but a single one of such shocks might sufiice to destroy for a 
century, perhaps forever, the rank of England among first-rate 
powers, and therefore English statesmen have to consider 
many political questions not only on their own abstract merits, 
but with due regard to their collateral bearings upon the na- 
tional well-being. It is for this reason, perhaps, that in En- 
gland a truly conservative politician, though without any un- 
due apprehension of revolutionary tendencies among the bulk 
of the population, would seek to preserve the preponderating 
electoral power among the middle classes, because with them 
there is, upon the whole, a larger amount of education and 
forethought than could be reasonably expected from numbers 
subsisting upon manual labor. But as free nations are gov- 
erned either by the preponderance of numbers or by the as- 
cendency of cultivated intelligence, so a conservative policy, if 
it do not maintain itself in power by the first, must seek to 
conciliate and identify itself with the second. It should have 
no fear of the calm extension of knowledge ; its real antago- 
nist is in the passionate force of ignorance. As it seeks to de- 
veloj) in the state whatever is best for the state's preservation 
in its highest form of integral unity, so certainly it should be- 
friend and foster all the intellectual powers which enrich and 
adorn a state, seeking, irrespectively of class, to honor and ally 
itself with all that ennobles the people it guards. It should 
be the friend of commerce, of art, of science, of letters, and 
should carefully keep open every vista by which merit can win 
its way to distinction ; for the best mode to aristocratize the 
sentiment of a population is to revere, as the finest element of 
aristocracy, every merit which, conquering obstacles of birth 
and fortune, rises up into distinction, and adds a new dignity 
to the nation itself 

T2 



L'E NVO I. 



Here ends the series of Essays to which I have given the 
general name of Caxtoniana ; for the subjects of most of them 
suggested themselves to me while embodying in the form of 
romance that experience of the world we live in which is ex- 
pressed in the novels ascribed to Pisistratus Caxton. 

And as the subjects thus suggested could find no adequate 
scope in the orderly treatment of narrative fiction, they have 
been here followed out in their own wayward tracks of dis- 
course, suggesting in their turn other themes for speculation 
or criticism in the old-fashioned field of belles-lettres to which 
this mixed kind of Essay belongs. 

So, at last, the Caxtoniana have swelled into a volume, now 
dismissed to its fate. May it find some modest place on the 
shelves that make room for the fictions to which it traces its 
origin and owes its name ! 



THE END. 






y ) 



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